The on-going cycle of addiction in families is well documented.More than 26 million children endure the challenge of parental substance abuse in their home. These children often experience strong and persistent feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger, confusion, depression and fear.
The impact of this disease spans well into their adult life.Long term behavioral, academic, health, and social problems persist past the time of childhood. Not surprisingly, studies show these children are four times more likely to have a drinking problem themselves. Thus, if left untreated, the generational cycle continues.
Until the family embraces a recovery based lifestyle, extra supports can be helpful. Extended family members, mentors,members of the clergy, teachers, even neighbors play important roles. They may offer encouragement, give useful information, present coping tools, lend a listening ear, or provide a safe haven. All efforts on children’s behalf are valuable.School guidance counselors may suggest appropriate resources which offer support and teach life skills, often in the company of peers with similar issues. Teenage children can contact their area Ala-teen group.
As parents navigate their path of recovery, children may feel confused and excluded. It is paramount to their sense of well being to help them understand the changes that come with a parent’s sobriety. Children need to be included in family recovery programs.One particular method I propose is a combination of reading and writing activities often referred to as bibliotherapy. Whether a therapeutic setting or solely implemented by a parent with their child, these activities can help children build self esteem,reduce feelings of isolation, and in this case, gain an understanding of the spiritual principles of recovery. Reading age-appropriatematerial provides a simple way to begin a conversation which may be challenging. Characters and events separate from their own lifecircumstance encourages children to talk openly, alleviates their confusion, and helps them problem solve.
Families who remain engaged and supportive of each other in the healing process make dramatic and positive strides towards the health and happiness of all members of the family system. 12 Steps 12 Stories may be just the resource you need to begin your conversation today and do your part to break the cycle of addiction in families.
As seen in the June of 2014 issue of ‘The Sober World’ magazine. To see the entire issue click here
- Impeding the Cycle of Addiction in Families
- The Use of Story: A Softer Approach to Healing