How do I Become Whole if I was Brought Up With Addict Parent(s)?

The biggest step is to admit that my parent’s addiction actually had an impact on me. Children who were raised this way, always use denial as defense mechanism. It is often easier to initially acknowledge that there is a possibility that it currently could have an effect on you. Only then can you begin to recognize particular behaviour patterns (as mentioned in other articles on this web page) as well as the effect on those around you. Become aware of the role which you played as a child and still act out repeatedly in relationships.

Oldest children are prone to being the hero. Performance-based, exemplary, over-responsible small “adults” who struggle to have fun. Youngest children are usually charming and make everyone laugh. They remain children and struggle to be taken seriously.  Second children often become the black sheep and must carry the whole family’s problems through rebelling and to draw the conflict away from the family. Only children become prodigies and must pursue the parent’s total ambition. Then there are also lost children (often the third child) who tend to disappear emotionally (and often physically) during times of stress.

Find out more about addiction and the effect thereof on family members. Start talking about your feelings and experiences with people you can trust, such as family, friends, professionals and those involved in 12-step programs. Find out if there are ACOA (adult children of alcoholic families) or other support groups running in your area and attend them. There is a great deal of information available on the internet. Read about co-dependence.  Go and see a psychologist – preferably one who works with addiction problems.


Working through the impact of your parent’s behaviour during your childhood (or currently) is a raw process, particularly because it has also affected you! You move from denial through aggression (towards them, yourself, God, etc.); hopelessness and depression (about everything which was lost during the process); to acceptance and forgiveness. Don’t get frightened away or give up hope when you are on this emotional see-saw. Feelings which emerge vary between joy when relationships run smoothly to the deepest pain when setbacks to old behaviour occur. Everyone experiences this because it is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

About thatpsychologist

Clinical Psychologist in private practice in George and Mossel-Bay Kliniese Sielkundige in privaat praktyk op George en Mosselbaai.

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