By: Cindy Coloma
Addie is late to class again. She reminded her mom about the Valentine’s Day party but ended up leaving for the bus with her still asleep on the couch. Just like last year, Addie dreads walking into school with no Valentine’s cards to pass out to her classmates and no goodies to share. She thinks about hiding in the bathroom, but Miss McCauley is standing in the hallway talking to a parent. Addie is afraid her teacher will start asking questions again. She feels sick to her stomach and walks to the office to see the nurse.
Addiction is like a spider’s web with threads that stretch and wind around family, friends and community alike. The most innocent victims caught in the web of addiction are children. Stuck in a circumstance that is not of their own choosing, children live with the consequences of their addicted loved one’s disease.
According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, there are an estimated 26.8 million Americans with alcoholic parents. Some early research indicates that 11 million of these are children under the age of 18.1
As these kids grow up, they face unique challenges. According to the Huffington Post, children of adults struggling with addiction tend to have more behavioral and academic issues, and they are four times more likely to become addicts.2
These statistics leave caring adults asking, what can be done? Is there a way to come alongside these children and make a difference?
The best way to address the pain and struggle these kids are living with is to talk to them. However, getting a child to talk about their feelings about a parent’s addiction is no small feat. Most of these children learn at an early age to hide the truth. They feel shame and embarrassment, and sometimes they even feel guilty. But talking these feelings over with a caring, healthy adult can make a positive difference in how they navigate their formative years.
While there’s no way to erase the effects parental addiction has on children, there are ways to strengthen connections with healthy support systems. For more ideas on how to impact the lives of families struggling with addiction and recovery, or to find out more about the programs available at Valley Hospital, please visit our website.
1 Children of Alcoholics: Important Facts. National Association for the Children of Alcoholics. Accessed January 1, 2018.
2 Sack, David. “How to Talk to a Child About a Parent’s Addiction.” Huffington Post, January 31, 2013.Share