How Family History of Drug Abuse Can Play a Role in Addiction  

How Family History of Drug Abuse Can Play a Role in Addiction  

Families are where people learn their first steps and habits. By watching their environment, much like any animal, people learn how to behave (or not behave) in many situations. When there is dysfunction, abuse, trauma, or substance abuse, it can change the course of everyone’s lives within the family. Intergenerational trauma is the idea that unresolved trauma is passed down generation to generation. Different than biological, genetic inheritance, it suggests environment plays a key role in how people become addicted to substances in an effort to understand (and mitigate) the abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Normalizing Abuse

When abuse is normalized, it is seen as just something that occurs in families, nothing out of the norm. It does not make it normal because it is one family’s normal. There are variations on normalcy, but mostly people get used to what they get used to and, until they know differently, may continue the path they’re on. Enabling families also keep loved ones from moving forward to seek help.

Dysfunction Destruction

Dysfunctional, self-destructive relationships and coping behaviors come from a place of needing to fill the holes in their lives. Drug abuse and alcoholism can begin for many reasons but often it stems from childhood or adolescence where it was modeled for them by others in the family, including parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who exhibited the same behaviors. This behavior turns into self-destructive tendencies.

Linking Trauma with Addiction

Intergenerational trauma has links to addiction for many reasons. Mental health issues can also be widespread in families with histories of trauma. People who struggle with depression and anxiety can be more likely to use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain as a coping mechanism. Addiction happens as a means of coping when it is hard to talk about. It gets rid of guilt. It is a means of trying to sort through all the challenges of life, just not in a healthy way.

The best way to address and understand intergenerational trauma is through hard work that may make it harder for the rest of the family to support. Sometimes enabling behaviors or continued dysfunction don’t support a person’s breaking free of the family patterns of abuse. Until (or when) the other family members are ready to confront their own addictions, it will continue to stay a cycle of destruction. To seek help is to first admit there is a need to get help and then find a better way of coping in order to save a lot of heartache and pain down the road.

The Palmetto Center is based on a Therapeutic Community model. We help people learn how to live free of addiction. Our community support provides structure while trained counselors offer life skills training and therapeutic techniques to help you move past addiction. Our program provides special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.