Grace Answers to Alcohol and Drug Addictions
Grace Whispers Chapter 2: Sin has used alcoholism (and drugs) to destroy generations, but our Papa uses Grace in Christ to heal and restore them.
In Chapter 2 of my new book, “My Return Home to Innocence,” I opened the chapter by stating “Alcoholism destroys the soul of the one we love but also suffocates the hearts and souls of those around them.”
According to the 2018 data report from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse (NIAA):
- More than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States, but less than eight percent of those receive treatment.
- Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year. That’s more than all illegal drugs combined.
- Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident.
- Alcohol-impaired driving accounts for more than 30 percent of all driving fatalities each year.
- Children of parents with addictions are 8 times more likely to have an addiction not because of the gene factors but because of learned behaviors of coping.
Growing up in my neighborhood, alcoholism was an accepted method of coping and we never talked about it. We watched our family members transform from being caring and kind in the morning, but by nightfall loud, angry, and belligerent. Their transformation negatively impacted our emotional and mental stability from childhood through adulthood. Buddy T from the website verywellmind.com wrote an article that addressed how alcoholism in the family affects a child through adulthood. Children raised in environments where alcohol dominated:
Judge Themselves without Mercy
Some adult children of alcoholics find it difficult to give themselves a break. They do not feel adequate and feel that they are never good enough. They may have little self-worth and low self-esteem and can develop deep feelings of inadequacy.
Take Themselves Too Seriously
Some adult children of alcoholics take themselves very seriously and can be their own worst critics. Over time, this can lead to anxiety and depression. For example, one sign you may notice is that it may be difficult for a person who grew up with an alcoholic parent to lighten up at a social gathering. Perhaps this is because they witnessed so many holidays, vacations, and other family events sabotaged by the alcoholic parent.
Have Difficulty with Intimate Relationships
In order to have an intimate relationship, one must be willing to look to another person for interdependence, emotional attachment, or fulfillment of their needs. Because of trust issues or lack of self-esteem, adult children of alcoholics may not be able to let themselves do that. In other words, they may struggle with romantic relationships and avoid getting close to others, in general. (Some may become too attached in relationships and become co-dependent on others, very needy.)
Have Trust Issues
After growing up in an atmosphere where denial, lying, and keeping secrets was the norm, adult children of alcoholics can develop serious trust problems. All the broken promises of the past tell them that trusting someone will backfire on them in the future.
Become Terrified of Abandonment
Because their alcoholic parent was emotionally unavailable or perhaps physically not around, adult children of alcoholics can develop an absolute fear of being abandoned. As a consequence, they can find themselves holding on to relationships they should end just because they don’t want to be alone. (Also suffer from Attachment Disorders)
Become Frightened of Angry People
If a child’s alcoholic parent was mean or abusive when they were drunk, adult children can grow up with a fear of all angry people. They may spend their lives avoiding conflict or confrontation of any kind, thinking it could turn violent. (They suffer from PTSD which causes them to always be on alert waiting for the next bad thing to happen.)
Constantly Seek Approval
Because they constantly judge themselves too harshly, some adult children of alcoholics are constantly seeking approval from others. They can become people-pleasers who are crushed if someone is not happy with them. They can absolutely fear criticism.
Can Become Super Responsible
Perhaps to avoid criticism or the anger of their alcoholic parent, many children from alcoholic homes become super responsible or perfectionists. They can become overachievers or workaholics. On the other hand, they can also go in the opposite direction, becoming very irresponsible members of society.
A Word from Verywell
The emotional and psychological scars that children can develop in alcoholic homes can be so deep that they can last well into adulthood. If you have an alcohol problem and you have children in the home, please try to find help. Focusing on the love of your children and how your drinking may be affecting them can go a long way in motivating you to scale back your drinking or stop it all together. They deserve that positive change—and so do you.
Another area I want to look at is how drugs or prescription drug addictions impact a child’s life. My father was unavailable because of drug use.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHA), children have several characteristic patterns of interaction, one or more of which are likely to be present in a family that includes parents or children abusing alcohol or illicit drugs:
- Negativism. Any communication that occurs among family members is negative, taking the form of complaints, criticism, and other expressions of displeasure. The overall mood of the household is decidedly downbeat, and positive behavior is ignored. In such families, the only way to get attention or enliven the situation is to create a crisis. This negativity may serve to reinforce the substance abuse.
- Parental inconsistency. Rule setting is erratic, enforcement is inconsistent, and the family structure is inadequate. Children are confused because they cannot figure out the boundaries of right and wrong. As a result, they may behave badly in the hope of getting their parents to set clearly defined boundaries. Without known limits, children cannot predict parental responses and adjust their behavior accordingly. These inconsistencies tend to be present regardless of whether the person abusing substances is a parent or child and they create a sense of confusion—a key factor—in the children.
- Parental denial. Despite obvious warning signs, the parental stance is: (1) “What drug/alcohol problem? We don’t see any drug problem!” or (2) after authorities intervene: “You are wrong! My child does not have a drug problem!”
- Miscarried expression of anger. Children or parents who resent their emotionally deprived home and are afraid to express their outrage use drug abuse as one way to manage their repressed anger.
- Self‐medication. Either a parent or child will use drugs or alcohol to cope with intolerable thoughts or feelings, such as severe anxiety, depression, PTSD or other mental illnesses.
- Unrealistic parental expectations. If parental expectations are unrealistic, children can excuse themselves from all future expectations by saying, in essence, “You can’t expect anything of me—I’m just a pothead/speed freak/junkie.” Alternatively, they may work obsessively to over achieve, all the while feeling that no matter what they do it is never good enough, or they may joke and clown to deflect the pain or may withdraw to side‐step the pain. If expectations are too low, and children are told throughout youth that they will certainly fail, they tend to conform their behavior to their parents’ predictions, unless meaningful adults intervene with healthy, positive, and supportive messages.
Because my life was negatively impacted by alcoholism and drugs in my family, the need to feel safe, secure, and at ease was dominated by fear, unable to bond or attach deeply with my loved ones. The feelings of not being good enough, or not doing good enough haunted me most of my life, which only strengthened a flesh pattern of perfection, performance, and pleasing.
Jesus has come into our hearts to restore our souls the way He created them to be. What the enemy used to destroy us with, alcohol and drugs, Jesus is living in and through His body as a counselor, friend, teacher, and pastor to break every chain that binds us. He lives through them to grant us hope and freedom. I am FREE from the pain of the past because Jesus living IN ME, is my intimate counselor and through the lives of others has brought me TRUE FREEDOM! HE CAME TO SET YOU FREE… JUST LET HIM!
If you are seeking counseling in your area, please go to our website at Network220.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to help you by sharing our Lord’s grace and love as He lives so freely through me now.