How Does a Parent’s Addiction Affect Children?

How Does a Parent's Addiction Affect Children?Addiction is a disease that affects San Jose families in dramatic ways. Children of addicts are significantly more likely to become addicts themselves for a variety of reasons. Many addicts eventually seek help because they finally recognize how their substance abuse is damaging their children.

Addiction and Genetics

Although it is certainly not the only factor, it is clear that there is a strong genetic pattern for addiction. The children of San Jose drug addicts are much more likely to have a biological predisposition toward addiction than children of non-addicts. This is because the brain is comprised of billions of biochemical connections called neural pathways that drive emotions and behaviors. These pathways form throughout life as the brain develops and learns. The following experiences help form neural pathways:

  • Anything that leads to excitement or thrills
  • Sexual attraction and response
  • Appetite and eating
  • Experiences that drive intense emotions such as happiness or sadness
  • The body’s response to physical pain
  • Anything that relieves anxiety or stress

Once these pathways establish through addiction, they drive behavior in a much more powerful way than rational thought and are extremely difficult to break. San Jose residents with the genetic trait for addiction build these pathways faster and more powerfully than others. Drugs and alcohol directly stimulate the part of the brain known as the pleasure center, which provides short-term relief of psychological distress. The brain will crave that comfort and will fire up the addictive neural pathways to drive drug-seeking behavior.

Having this genetic proclivity for addiction does not automatically mean someone will become an addict. If San Jose residents avoid drugs and alcohol, they may never have a problem. Some may never become addicted to substances, but may be more prone to develop addictive or compulsive behaviors. Awareness of this hereditary trait, and open communication about a family’s history of substance abuse may feel somewhat awkward, but it can be a critical step in breaking the pattern of family addiction.

Is Addiction a Learned Behavior?

Genetics are not the only way addicted parents pass their disease on to their children. Families tend to build certain coping styles for managing stress, emotionally intense situations and even celebrations. San Jose children learn these behaviors from an extremely young age. Something as simple as a parent drinking every day sends a message to her children about what it means to be an adult. In some cases this learning may be conscious, but in many cases the children are completely unaware of the patterns they are developing. As painful as it is for a child to grow up with the fear, emotional neglect and pain that having an addicted parent causes, they are still much more likely to adopt those behaviors and resulting addictions when they become adults.

Addiction Help for San Jose Families

If you or your San Jose spouse struggle with an addiction and want to avoid passing this disease on to your children, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our counselors are standing by 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have and to connect you with lifesaving resources. We can help you if you reach out, so call now and find recovery today.

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