If you grew up in a household with a parent who abused alcohol or drugs…you are not alone. According to a January, 2000 study that was released by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA), one out of four people come from a family where one or both parents abuse alcohol or other drugs.
Your attitudes and behaviors, and the way you see yourself, have all been shaped by the experiences you had growing up. While it may seem like ancient history, understanding your past can help you decide where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.
From your experiences growing up, you probably know first-hand that alcohol and other drugs sometimes made your parent:
- say or do things that seemed bizarre or embarrassing
- act unpredictably or illogically
- break promises
- be argumentative and even violent
Family life may have been chaotic and confusing. It may still feel that way.
Although no two people are affected by a parent’s substance abuse in exactly the same way, many children of substance abusers feel:
- guilt, shame and anger about a loved one’s alcohol or drug use
- overly responsible for their family’s well-being
- uncomfortable sharing feelings and connecting with others
- concerned about their own drinking or drug use
- isolated, anxious or depressed
These feelings can persist long past childhood. They can stick with you after you’ve moved away from home, or just started living more independently. But they don’t have to stop you from having a healthy, productive life.
Chances are you developed a lot of survival skills as a child. You can use these skills, along with the new ones you develop, to deal with your feelings, create balance in your life and pursue goals that fulfill your needs.
Just remember: You didn’t cause your parent or parents' problem. You couldn’t control it or cure it then. And you can’t now. But you can cope. Finding support is important, and ASAP offers the support of both individual and group counseling.
For more information about available groups or to make an individual appointment, please call 212.854.2128. All of our services are confidential.