Drug Rehabilitation Blog

Growing up with an Addicted Parent

Growing Up With an Addicted Parent in the Home

There is no such thing as a perfect mother or father. Even the best parents make mistakes sometimes. But one thing is for sure, and that is that addiction has no place in parenting. Addiction should not have a place anywhere, but it can be especially detrimental to children. Growing up with an addicted parent is extremely difficult, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Getting help for this particular issue starts with understanding how it has affected you. If you grew up in a home where one or both of your parents were addicts, you may have gotten back on your feet as an adult yourself. You may think that it did not affect you, but it is likely that you were affected in many ways. This is not to say that you can’t get out from underneath this emotional load, but it is good to address the issue and face it head-on.

Hidden Chaos in the Home

You should start by looking at how your home life was. Homes that have parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are often in constant chaos. Unlike other more stable homes, the overall mood in these homes can change at the drop of a hat. Children who grow up in these homes often don’t know what to expect when they walk in the door after school, and this creates an unstable mentality for the rest of their lives in which they don’t know what to expect from any given situation.

Kids Have To Grow Up Too Fast with an Addicted Parent

Another serious issue that kids of addictive parents have to face is growing up too fast. Parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are obviously not being responsible, so it often falls upon children to do the responsible thing in various situations. The roles become essentially reversed, and this can have long-term detrimental effects on children as they get older.

The Most Common Struggles for Kids With an Addicted Parent

Many children who grow up in homes with an addicted parent share common struggles. Not all of these apply to everyone, but they include some of the most common issues that children with an addicted parent faces in adulthood.

  • A tendency to lie
  • A lack of discipline in themselves
  • A lack of self-confidence and self-respect
  • An innate mistrust of authority figures
  • Constant trouble in relationships of any kind
  • Difficulty enjoying anything
  • An inability to understand what is normal

A Return To Normal

It is possible to return to normal after growing up in a household where addiction was present. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a great way to start looking at your past and realizing how it is affecting you today with the help of a therapist.

If you have an addicted parent or know someone else who is struggling with drugs, you can help them get help as well. You might even find that you need help with addiction yourself, as this is quite common. The best place to go is to an inpatient rehab facility where temptations will be gone, and real recovery can begin.


  • Diane C

    This is very useful information. I grew up with an addicted parent and it is so true. You are on constant watch to make sure you don’t do or say anything that will set them off. It is a very stressful way to live. You always think of getting the addicted person help but getting help for those around them seems very important also. If you have this situation, you should definitely seek help.

  • Angie

    I had a neighbor whose father was an alcoholic. As soon as he got out of the home he got his life together. However, some serious financial stress occurred and he “knew” that the way to help handle it was to turn to alcohol. Unfortunately for him, he did it to excess and ended up in hospital. After that his wife sent him to a 30-day rehab facility where he realized that he never wanted his own son to think or feel as though alcohol was an option as a way to deal with life stresses. Being a parent is hard, but if you have any kind of addiction, it is best to do as this blog suggests and get treatment. You are teaching your children by the example that you leave, and as an addict, you are teaching your child that this is the way to deal with life. So please get help, so that you can be the best parent possible.

  • Walter

    I totally can see how this is. I grew up for part of my childhood with a parent that was using drugs, and aside from the fact that they gave me drugs, they really had no control over my as a parent/child relationship should have. My other parent, who did not do drugs, had way more presence in my life and was a stabilizing influence when I was running into hard times. Although, I did lie a lot, I also would shoot straight with my parent who did not do drugs. This is amazing to think about how many children are struggling with this problem and it is sobering and heartbreaking at the same time. It is true, as I have heard many stories of young children being very responsible because they had no choice or else they would get lost in the shuffle of life. I think that it is the definitely needed for people who know of situations like this that are occurring to step in and help those children so that they get the assistance that they need to cope with this difficult situation.

  • Jonathan

    This article makes a very good point. Until I read it, I was not aware how the fact that my mother was basically addicted to marijuana had affected me. I noticed that I had been very antagonistic in general to drugs. I am not saying that the response is wrong but the fact that it is done automatically and not by choice is bad to a degree and I notice that what you do really does have a great impact on what your children do.

    This article really does explain how my life had panned out. As when I got home I didn’t know if my mom was going to be locked in her room or out and about happy to see me. Her addiction probably led to her early death, leaving me without a parent in the house at the age of 15 which brings me to the next part of the article, I was forced to grow up really fast. Because my parents were divorced and I chose to stay with my mother, when she died, it led to other complications which forced me to grow up rather fast and skip out on some of the simplicities of a child as well as develop a liking to alcohol at quite a young age. So your actions as parents really do have an impact on the way a kid develops and grows up.

    This article gives a solid foundation for people to think with and start out from when dealing with a parent that is an addict. It also gives children a sense of responsibility that they have and can take for their parents and in doing so, themselves.

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