When we think of someone being exposed to trauma, we think of individuals that have been the victim of accidents, rape or war. But trauma can hit far closer to home than many imagine.
Growing up in a home where one or more parent is an alcoholic or drug addict impacts your entire life and shapes your perceptions, belief and behaviors. The constant exposure to the chaos, drama and lack of security and stability is incredibly traumatic to the child and to the adult that child grows into.
Ramifications of Early Childhood Trauma
Research shows that adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs) have higher rates of developing depression, substance abuse, and challenges in their interpersonal relationships. In fact, in one study, ACOAs were three to four times more likely to select a romantic partner that was also an addict. The study also revealed ACOAs were more likely to experience symptoms of trauma.
Signs and Symptoms of Trauma
ACOAs tend to exhibit several common signs and symptoms of PTSD and trauma. Any of these symptoms can have a negative impact on the quality of life of the person experiencing them.
Some of the most common symptoms experienced include:
- Hypervigilance – Children in these families always had to be aware of any potential danger.
- Need for control – An inability to control their surroundings as children causes the adult to NEED to be in control at all times.
- Difficulty with emotions – Children of alcoholics or addicts often feel they must hide their emotions as to not upset their parent.
- Low self-esteem – ACOAs often are very sensitive to any type of criticism and are uncomfortable with praise.
ACOAs are encouraged to seek support. Through mental health therapy, these individuals can heal from the PTSD and trauma and experience positive shifts in their lives.
If you or someone you know is the adult child of an alcoholic or drug addict and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may help.