Addiction doesn’t just affect those who are abusing. It can live on to affect the generations that follow.
When one or both parents suffer from substance abuse or alcoholism, mental health issues or rage, trauma is created. Trauma at an early age – particularly the early developmental stages before the development of the prefrontal cortex — creates stress, which negatively impacts the structure of chemistry of the brain.
The children who experience this kind of trauma don’t even know they’ve been impacted, and tend to believe they will be OK if they leave and create their own families. Instead, these children pass on both the trauma and the fragmented intimate issues they developed as children, according to Kathy Leigh Willis, PhD, director of Malibu Beach Recovery Center.
Secondary trauma is carried by the children and passed on to their own offspring creating a generation impacted by anxiety and depression. Worse yet, these children are uniquely set up to find that alcohol and other drugs help alleviate these symptoms temporarily.
This can lead to the traumatic events being constantly experienced as if they were happening in the present. This then can produce a pattern of prolonged periods of acute arousal followed by physical and mental exhaustion. Following this, emotional exhaustion leads to distraction making clear thinking difficult or impossible. They express that trauma through emotional detachment (numbing out), seeming emotionally flat, distant, cold, or they may be super controlling, hyper vigilant (anxiety), suffer sleep problems or sever stress.
Because this isn’t just a psychological issue but a neurological problem, a neurological solution needs to be applied, Willis says. Memory of the trauma experience may become accessible only via the associated emotions. In these cases, whole family treatment is essential. In addition, simple techniques from breathing, proper diet and nutritional supplements can help regulate blood levels and go a long way toward overcoming these issues.
If you or someone you love is battling an addiction, call The Oaks at La Paloma at our toll-free number. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.
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