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Alcohol Misuse and Adult Children

The Effect of Alcohol Misuse on the Mental Health of Adult Children

Do you know what it's like living with alcoholic parents? If you grew up in a non-alcoholic, normal home environment, there’s a way to better understand those who grew up with alcoholic parents: it is seen in the impact on their mental health in adulthood.

Due to substance abuse, a dysfunctional home is one that's characterized by instability and chaos. Oftentimes, children of alcoholics (or parents who misuse/abuse any other substance) may begin to feel as though they're responsible for the problems brought on by their alcoholic parent. They also had to endure extreme levels of tension and stress. In the long run, they exhibit symptoms of depression (e.g. chronic guilt, apathy, feelings of helplessness & hopelessness) AND possessiveness (e.g. excessive self-consciousness, overly rigid, hoarding, intense need for perfection, isolation, & withdrawal). Ross Rosenberg M.Ed., LCPC, CADC offers an in-depth explanation of what ACOA/Adult Children of Alcoholics means.

Growing up in an environment infused with unpredictability and chaos, adult children of alcoholics tend to internalize messages of insecurity, distrust, and belief that they should suppress their emotions or feelings. These maladaptive beliefs can, over time, cause symptoms of mental health issues. Here's an insightful lecture by Dr. Katie Baird & Barbara Whelan on "Growing up with parental alcohol misuse: impact on mental health".

Children of alcoholics display higher rates of antisocial personality traits than what's expected in the general population. They are more likely to experience episodes of abuse, trauma, and neglect leading to an increased propensity to manifest symptoms of generalized panic disorder, anxiety disorder, dysthymia, agoraphobia, and social dysfunction.

As for interpersonal impact, they develop insecure attachment patterns in their relationships with family members, coworkers, friends, romantic partners, and even their own children. These unhealthy relational patterns can prevent them from developing positive relationships as adults.

In terms of biological impact, chronic stress from growing up in a chaotic and unstable home environment can result in significant alterations in the function and structure of the brain, as well as the way the body responds to and manages stress.

If you’re a child of an alcoholic and need help recognizing your deep-seated issues and working with a new self-awareness, contact us today at JarvisHypnotherapy.

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