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The fact that addictions and problem use impact children
on many levels cannot be disputed. This is a reality whether children begin
this life impacted by pre-natal alcohol/drug exposure or move through
developmental years in the presence of a caregiver with addictive behavior.
Children do not yet have the cognitive capacity to filter
information and are literal “black and white experiencers.” Beliefs about the
self and about the world form early and are stored subconsciously. These
dysfunctional beliefs continue to impact one’s life experience long into
Dad used to fly into rages when he was drinking, I learned to stay in the
background and avoid conflict.
was often drunk and emotionally unavailable, I learned to minimize my own needs.
Most often, there will rarely be a more important teacher then
that of the parent/guardian. Therefore, it is imperative that the addict
caregiver become fully aware of the impact on dependent children and begin to
create simple practical shifts. Functional addicts especially have the ability
to create needed safety, structure and loving rituals for children. Those
addicts or problem users who have lost the capacity to stay gainfully employed
and/or to meet basic safety and emotional needs are at risk for having their
children removed by protective services.
Children who experience caregivers becoming stable will begin to
mirror healthier thoughts, feelings and behaviors themselves. Caregivers who
choose to become the CEO of their lives are more apt to raise
children who will become healthy adaptive functional adults.