Monday, May 4, 2009

Substance abuse the family disease - blaming the kids

Claudia Black writes in her book, "It will never happen to me", on page 5:

"While one of the clear indicators for a smoothly working family is consistency, the words which best describe living in an alcoholic family are inconsistency and unpredictability. It is my belief that what a spouse or child does while living in an alcoholic environment, they do because at the time it makes sense to them. As the problems surrounding alcoholism cause more and more inconsistency and unpredictability in the home, the behavior of the nonalcoholic family members typically becomes an attempt to restabilize the family system. Members of this family system act and react in manners which make life easier and less painful for them."

As a family counselor I observe this phenomenon all the time. The child get identified as the one having problems and gets referred. The child's grades are dropping. The child is disruptive in school. The child is not coming home at the appointed time. Chores are not getting done. The child is becoming more defiant.

The child becomes the symptom bearer for the family. The child becomes identified as the problem. The child becomes twice victimized: once by the alcoholic family, and second by the authority figures who identify the child as "bad".

As a counselor, I am aware of the injustice and chaos at home. I help the child figure out how he/she can deal with the situation without further victimizing him/herself. Parents are often ashamed and experience fear of being blamed and so they further scapegoat their own child for the problems alcohol is causing in their family.

Alcohol advertisements lie to people. Alcohol does not contribute to the good life, to celebration and good times, it often contributes to misery, degredation, and enormous suffering.

If only the truth were known and appreciated, we would be living in a much better world.

We have substance abuse professionals at GCASA that do understand. We see the damage done every day. We help people understand the cause of their suffering and help them create a better life for themselves.

Breweries and distilleries prey on people and it is the children who suffer the most of all.

This is article #9 in a series on substance abuse a family disease.

1 comment:

John Bennett said...

I love what claudia has to say about is so true and often the largest obstacle to over come in working with chemically depdendant families. If you have watched the HBO series "Intervention", then you know what she is talking about.