Did you know that 1 in 5 children in the UK live with a parent who has an alcohol problem (and in the U.S. according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, approximately 6.6 million children age 18 and younger live in households with at least one alcoholic parent)? These numbers are from studies done a few years ago so they are probably even higher now.
Adults who grew up in a family where one or both parents were addicted to alcohol use unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to deal with their broken childhood reality. They also have in common some characteristics, to name a few:
- they feel a lot of guilt, shame and embarrassment
- they feel different from other people (usually worse than others, they struggle to feel part of a group)
- they are guessing what normal is and how to live their adult lives
- they often end up addicted to alcohol (or other substances) or marry an addict (or both)
- they can have a low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD)
Alcoholism is a family illness. It affects not only the addict but everyone around them – spouse, children, parents, friends and other family members. Unfortunately, it’s a type of illness that, unless we break the cycle, will continue to affect lives. Even after I’ve moved out from my family home, even after I left my home country and even after my stepdad died due to his alcoholism my issues lasted until I started unpicking what was underneath.
The most important part of this issue is that even if a person chooses to never pick up a drink because her parents were drunks but will not learn new, healthy coping mechanisms and heal the trauma – the illness will continue and most likely affect her children too. It’s like this gift that keeps on giving.
There are different ways of healing childhood wounds and trauma. What helped me was to go through a therapy and educate myself by reading on the subject. But only when I looked at it more holistically and started treating myself as a whole (someone who has the body, mind and soul) things started to shift. And if you are not the one for talking you can try an art therapy or a drama therapy. There is something for everyone.
I feel it’s important to add that the alcoholic in your childhood could’ve been one of your grandparents or another, close to you person. Also, this person could’ve been the functioning alcoholic – someone who has a job (maybe even a pretty good one), pays the bills and seems to have no issue at all. If this resonated with you let me know in the comments how I can help.
I look forward to hearing what are your thoughts on this!
February 22, 2018 - Uncategorized