Addiction is traumatic for children when it is introduced into their lives. Ideally, children would never be exposed to addiction, but this is far from the case. Children all over the world are raised by parents or guardians who struggle with addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, the internet or some other addictive substance or process. The relationships that children have with their addicted parents typically cause psychological damage to the child that, in some cases, never heals. This is a tragedy, but circulating information on the damage that addiction does to children is the only way to raise awareness about it.
Being exposed to addiction makes children feel insecure and afraid. Children have brains like sponges, and though they are innocent, they are very aware. They depend on their parent to have things under control and protect them from the world, and they are able to sense if their parent is unable to do so. Parents who are consumed by addiction are not devoting the time, energy or attention to their child that they should be. The child is aware that their parent is mentally absent and it robs the child of the security they should feel in their parent.
This tends to make the child withdrawn and mistrusting of others, particularly when they are very young because they do not know how to express their feelings to others. They know their parent is dysfunctional and they know that other children do not have this problem. They can sense how they are different and less fortunate but they do not know who they can open up to about it, or even if they should. Anti-social behavior is observed in many children of addicted parents.
As the child grows and matures, they are much more likely than other children to develop addictions and mental disorders of their own. The thought and behavior patterns that children form in their early years are ones they will carry with them for their entire lives. If the foundation of a person’s childhood includes parents who are addicted and therefore less available, the child is likely to develop mental problems of their own as a direct result.