Substance Use and Family Dysfunction

November 5, 2020 6:48 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Our family life not only defines our childhood and adolescence, but the messages we hear and the experiences we have can affect our entire lives. Unfortunately, when you grow up in a dysfunctional family, the messages and experiences you receive are warped and unhealthy. While it’s possible to overcome these issues through counseling services in Yakima, WA, you must first recognize the harmful effects of substance abuse on the family dynamic.

What happens when you grow up in a substance abusing family?

Imagine that one or both of your parents were alcoholics. Any time a parent deals with substance abuse, there’s a strong potential for dysfunction. Substance abuse is a dysfunctional behavior, often stemming from a lack of healthy coping mechanisms. This unhealthy behavior has an effect on everyone in the family unit, particularly the children.

One of the major problems with dysfunctional families is their lack of communication and nurturing. Instead of the adults parenting their children and encouraging them to be separate, healthy individuals, the children find themselves parenting the adults. This leads to the children of substance abusers filling one of four roles: the family hero (who reflects well on the unit), the scapegoat (who is blamed for everything), the lost child (whose needs are completely neglected) or the mascot (the comic relief). Each of these roles has devastating consequences for the children, who can experience loneliness, feelings of inadequacy and confusion—even if they’re the “golden child” who seems to get all of the parents’ positive attention.

What are the characteristics of dysfunctional families?

Dysfunctional families are unable to communicate in a healthy manner. When the children are forced to adapt to the parents’ needs, they’re unable to express their own. If they do, the chemically dependent parent may feel guilt—so they turn this loss of control around on their child and blame them for the problem. In turn, the child feels guilt, and blames themselves. It’s a codependent dynamic that forces family members to repress their needs and emotions to suit the substance abuser. Disagreement is a singular threat and must be quashed to preserve the status quo. If your parents ever told you not to tell other people what’s going on at home, not to trust others or to swallow your feelings, you may have grown up in a dysfunctional family.

What are the characteristics of healthy families?

Healthy families are able to express their feelings, agree or disagree, talk about why and ask questions to clarify. Children are encouraged to become their own person and have a distinct sense of self. In turn, the parents are the ones adjusting to the child’s needs, not forcing the child to subsume their needs in deference to the adults. This is because both the parents and children are not threatened by loss of control or a differing point of view.

The effects of growing up in a dysfunctional home can be overcome with time and effort. If you’re interested in exploring counseling services in Yakima, WA, call Apple Valley Counseling Services LLC today.

Categorised in:

This post was written by admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *