Growing up in a family where addiction is ever present can feel like a never-ending cycle that you’re destined to repeat. For many, addiction is all they’ve ever known – whether you’ve had to take on additional roles as a child or you’ve witnessed or experienced abuse, neglect, violence, or general family dysfunction due to addiction, you’ve likely been weary that this, too, could become your future. Previous research has shown that children who grow up in dysfunctional families are prone to mental illnesses and addiction later on down the line – there are, however, steps that you can take to ensure this doesn’t become part of your storyline.
A 2014 study published in the journal Child & Family Social Work sought to explore recent mothers who were substance dependent and were navigating their way to achieving stability and breaking their family’s cycle of addiction as they worked through motherhood. Six mothers who had been diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD) and were enrolled in an inpatient treatment program were interviewed; researchers asked the participants questions relating to their understanding of their child, their own childhood experiences, the reason behind their substance abuse, and the changes they believe they need to make. Three themes emerged relating to changes they needed to make:
- Participants explained how they felt on the edge of society – they felt outcasted, and this led them to want to provide feelings of structure and belonging for their child. This involved getting an education, maintain a stable job, establishing routines, creating traditions, and providing a supportive environment for their child to thrive in.
- Traumatic experience they had in the past propelled them to want to act to protect their child now. This involved keeping their children away from those who could expose them to harmful behaviors and creating a predictable, secure environment that their child could grow to find stabilization in.
- Individuals explained that the meaning of their substance use led them to want to find alternative strategies and goals to work towards for the future. This involved signing housing contracts, arranging for their child to begin school, and focusing on providing emotional and physical energy for their own well-being and their child.
There are many, many people who have grown up in distressing environments but have found their way out and provided themselves and their families with the stability, structure, and nurture that they never received growing up. Sometimes all it takes is seeking help and beginning to develop the tools you need to move forward with your life. Recovery is possible.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.