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There is a strong connection between parenting and addiction. This connection is one that often impairs the entire family unit. According to Social Work in Public Health, “Each family and each family member is uniquely affected by the individual using substances including but not limited to having unmet developmental needs, impaired attachment, economic hardship, legal problems, emotional distress, and sometimes violence being perpetrated against him or her.” Meanwhile, working to learn more about the connection between parenting and addiction and the importance of healing together is necessary for achieving and sustaining the well-being of all family members.

The Family Cycle of Addiction

The causes of addiction are becoming more and more understood through research. This is especially true regarding families and family histories. One example is how there is now a better understanding of children of addicts are effected.

For instance, as stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Biological factors that can affect a person’s risk of addiction include their genes, stage of development, and even gender or ethnicity. Scientists estimate that genes, including the effects environmental factors have on a person’s gene expression, called epigenetics, account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s risk of addiction.” Epigenetics makes it much more likely to bring addiction into the home.

It is not uncommon for an individual in recovery to research their family history to find that there was addiction in previous generations. This is true even if there was no addiction in the immediate household. However, if there is addiction in the home, especially if it is a parent, the likelihood of the child of addicts struggling with addiction does go up.

The Connection Between Parenting and Addiction

A person’s home environment is one of the most contributing factors to how an individual acts and reacts in certain situations. For example, behaviors in children are often directly related to the behaviors of their parents. So, when the parent is exhibiting the negative behaviors of alcohol and/or substance addiction, it is highly likely that this will affect and influence the children of addicts.

Children of addicts are much more likely to engage in negative behaviors because they often don’t have the responsible supervision that a sober parent can provide. Additionally, these children often have greater access to alcohol and other substances because they are more readily available in the house.

Of course, other factors can lead to addiction. According to NIDA, “A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to economic status and general quality of life. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person’s likelihood of drug use and addiction.” Because addiction is a family disease, it requires family solutions. The good news is that there are many effective family solutions available for breaking the cycle of addiction in the family.

Parenting and Addiction: Breaking the Cycle

The best way to ensure that addiction is not passed on from the parent to the child is to choose recovery over alcohol and substance use. Just as a child may emulate a parent’s negative addictive behaviors, they may also emulate the positive behaviors that can be brought about by a program of recovery.
There are also many tools for children of people struggling with addiction that can help them heal. This includes individual, family, and group therapy, as well as different recovery communities that are focused solely on children and the whole family. Some influential and effective groups include Al-Anon and Alateen.

It is also important for parents to get the help they need before they begin to address the issues that addiction creates in the home. As many people in recovery say, “One must put their oxygen mask on first before they can begin to help anyone else.” Recovery will have a “trickle-down” effect, especially from parent to child. Yet, this will only work if the recovery is established, strong, and secure.

Helping the Family Heal at The Phoenix Recovery Center

There is perhaps no more special bond than that shared between a parent and their child. Nothing should come between that bond, especially something as toxic and damaging as addiction. The good news is that this bond is strong and repairable; the key is to reach out and ask for help as soon as possible.

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we understand that addiction is a family disease. This is why all of our recovery plans take the entire family into account. It is only when the whole family is healed, that the entire family can move forward and progress. Focusing on family recovery is also one of the best ways to stave off any potential relapses.

Choosing recovery is one of the hardest things a family may ever have to do. The good news is that it is also the most rewarding.

Many people don’t realize how common it is for parents and children to both struggle with issues of addiction. Many times this is because the environment in the home caused by parental addiction can influence a child to emulate the behaviors. This is why breaking the cycle of addiction in the family early is so crucial. If you feel like you or a loved one are struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help get you on the road to recovery right away. For more information about shared family addiction (especially parent and child) and how best to help the whole family recover, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT