Perhaps the biggest predictors of addiction is whether you have a close relative, especially a parent, who has struggled with addiction. Nearly all parents want their children to grow up to be happy, healthy people. If you have struggled with addiction, you might wonder if your children are fated to the same struggle. There is, of course, a large genetic component to addiction. Genes seem to account for about half the risk, based on twins studies. For example, if one identical twin was addicted, the chances on average that the other twin is also addicted are about 50 percent. This is true even if they are raised by different parents. That’s a pretty big strike. People with a parent, child, or sibling with addiction are about eight times more likely to become addicted themselves. Genes aren’t the only factor though. Much of a child’s risk of addiction is determined by environment and learned behavior. For example, if a child learns regular heavy drinking is normal, she is more likely to think of that as baseline behavior as she gets older and might not see having four or five drinks every night as a problem. Perhaps more concerning are the ways addiction destabilizes home life. One major predictor of addiction is how many adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, a person had. These are things such as feeling unsafe, feeling neglected, witnessing violence at home, being the victim of abuse, and so on. More than four ACEs significantly increase the likelihood of addiction. Addiction significantly increases the chances that a child will have more ACEs, as excessive drinking or drug use often leads to violence and neglect. Children of addicts also frequently learn codependent behavior. This is when they become super nice and accommodating in order to keep an addicted parent happy. They tend to repeat these behaviors in future relationships and often end up becoming addicted themselves. None of this is inevitable. If you are currently struggling with addiction and don’t want your child to have the same struggle, the best thing you can do is get sober as soon as possible. The sooner you do that and create a healthy, structured home life, the more you reduce the risk of your child having ACEs. It’s also important to talk to your children about drugs much earlier than you think is necessary, even as young as five or six. They need age-appropriate but honest information about drugs and they need to know they can rely on you to tell them the truth. Of course, all that depends on your setting a good example.
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, we can help. Recovery Ways is a leading addiction treatment provider with an excellent recovery rate. Our expert staff includes masters and PhD level therapists and board certified addiction psychiatrists. Our comfortable facilities will help to make your treatment as enjoyable as possible and our therapists use proven techniques like sensory integration and recreation therapy to help to engage the world without the assistance of drugs or alcohol. Call us today at 1-888-986-7848 or email us through our contact page to learn more.