Substance abuse disorders remain prevalent across the United States, and they can have significant negative impacts on people’s lives to the point where most people want to separate themselves. These disorders tend to run in families, but coming from a family where substance use is common does not mean that substances are your destiny. There is always hope.
What Is At Risk With Drug Abuse?
There is a lot at stake in all areas of your life when using drugs and alcohol. Substance use disorders can result in professional, physical, social and cognitive problems.
- Erratic behavior due to substance use in combination with placing a focus on and devoting time to substances can make it difficult to find employment or stay employed.
- Purchasing substances can deplete your finances and lead to consequences such as bankruptcy.
- Substance use increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke and hypertension, as well as leading to death from overdosing.
- Devoting your time and energy to acquiring and using substances can result in social isolation.
- Changes in personality or behavior as a result of substance use can result in tensions with your significant other and other family members.
- Growing up in an environment where substance use is prevalent can increase the risk of trauma and addiction in children.
- Substance use can impair your cognitive function, making it more difficult to solve problems.
- Substances affect motor control, which hinders your ability to perform activities such as driving.
Substance use disorders affect your whole life, and there is a lot at risk. Seeking help can change the course of your life.
Influence Parents Have on Drugs
Family plays a significant role in the development of substance use disorders. If your parents struggle with substance abuse, you are at greater risk of developing an addiction. There is a large genetic component to developing a substance use disorder and addiction alike. The genetic factor is complex, with several genes contributing to increasing the risk factor, but parents struggling with addiction frequently pass their disorders down to their children. Mental health conditions and poor impulse control also tend to be genetic, and they contribute to the development of substance use disorders as well.
Environment also plays a major role in substance use. Trauma, abuse and stress are common risk factors, and children of addicts can often experience these situations. Living with an unstable parent can be scary, leading to trauma. Financial difficulties such as bankruptcy can also produce stress in children due to disruptions from moving or lack of money for food or activities. In addition, people struggling with substance abuse can often experience changes in their personality, which can increase their likelihood of abusing a child. In the case of these stressors, children may turn to substances as a coping mechanism.
Children use their parents to model appropriate behavior. If they see you using substances, they are likely to believe that substance use is normal, even if you tell them it is unhealthy. When a parent turns to substances whenever a problem arises, children come to assume that substances will solve their problems. In addition, if you do not drink or use substances in moderation, children will assume that the quantity you consume is normal and are at a greater risk of binge drinking.
How old a child is when they start drinking is also a risk factor for substance use, and access can lead to an earlier age of first use. If you frequently use substances in front of your children, they are likely to be curious about them. Since the substances are probably in the house, your children can easily access them and begin to experiment from a younger age. If they develop a habit of using or experimenting with your substances, they are more likely to continue into adulthood and potentially become addicted.
Many risk factors contribute to substance use, and family history is one of the largest. The genetic component plays a significant role, but stressors and the examples you set are also major contributors.
How You Can Become a Resilient Survivor
If your parents abuse substances, that does not guarantee that you will, too. Genes can skip a generation, so you may not inherit the genetic component of the disease, which lowers your risk. Your psychological factors and modeling may be different, too.
If you have a high self-esteem and develop healthy coping mechanisms such as sports or artistic passions from a young age, you are less likely to develop a substance use disorder. In addition, you might receive more positive messaging at friends’ houses and at school. For example, teachers may teach anti-drug lessons to educate you on the dangers of substance abuse, and friends’ parents may model abstinence or alcohol consumption in moderation. Many children also find mentors outside the home such as teachers and coaches who can help guide them towards a healthier lifestyle.
Even if you do develop an addiction like your parents, you can still be resilient and overcome it by staying sober. Seeing addiction in your parents might help you recognize the signs in yourself, or you might be more inspired to seek treatment. By seeking treatment, you can develop or rediscover healthy coping skills and uncover your inner strength and resilience. Rehab can help you overcome trauma from your past environment and teach you healthy messaging and modeling so that you can break the cycle of substance use in your family. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, look for treatment today. Seeking help will make you stronger, and it will help you become a warrior and a survivor.