10 Tragic Things Only People Who Grew Up With Drug-Addicted Parents Understand

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10 Ways Children Are Affected By Drug-Addicted Parents

When I was young, I had an all-too-intimate knowledge of what it was like to grow up with a drug-addicted parent… in fact, I had two. Neither of my parents sought out help, they refused to change their ways and instead carried on, doing the best they could to raise their children while under the influence of drugs.

I wish they had realized the impact of their choices, that growing up this way wasn’t “normal.” It was dysfunctional chaos that led us to hate not only them but ourselves in the process. I would’ve given anything for them to understand the repercussions and aftermath of growing up with drug-addicted parents. 

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I write this as someone who’s mother is no longer in my life because she chose drugs over her daughters, whose father makes himself a mere ghost in my life and isn't supportive or involved in any of my goals or achievements. I can’t tell you the last time one of my parents asked me how my day was, how I was doing in school, or how work was going. Instead, I was dealt a father who feels sorry for himself and ignores all the good that is in his life. He gets belligerently drunk at important life events, almost ruining those happy moments without even so much as an apology for doing so. 

I pray that anyone who was raised by drug-addicted parents finds peace after grappling with the realization of how much of a toll your parent’s addiction problems and refusal to seek help has taken a toll on you, your mind, and your heart. While the aftermath of this dysfunction is a battle we face every day, it is possible to overcome the sadness and break free to find the pure happiness we all deserve.  

Here are 10 effects of the aftermath of growing up with drug-addicted parents:

1. Even when we’re surrounded by people we love, we still feel alone.

Regardless of all those who support and love us, we still feel alone. We feel like it's just us against this crazy, f*cked up world. We could really use a parent once in a while for advice and support, or even just to know we can lean on them when life gets tough. There are days we spend drowning in our anxiety and others where we can’t get out of bed to face the world. Knowing we don't have that unconditional love from a mom or dad on days when we need it most can make us feel like the loneliest person in the world. As we grow older, we struggle with finding ways to practice self-love because we were never taught it growing up. 

2. There are times we feel like no one will ever understand completely. 

We don't know too many people who don't have their parents in their lives. We see most of the people around us cherishing their parents and all they've done for them. We feel like everyone around us, despite any problems life may throw their way, can always lean on their parents no matter what. But we don't have that and we never will. And when we want to cry about it or vent, we feel like nobody will ever understand what it truly feels like.

The trauma we faced when we were younger left us with a heavy heart that is hard to walk around with each day. And as much as we want a perfect life, it seems impossible at times because we are afraid our past will haunt us forever.  

3. We always feel like something is missing. 

It always feels like there's this hole in our hearts, a giant void that will never be able to be filled properly. While we're so grateful for siblings and friends, and while we truly don't know where we'd be without them, it's never the same as our parents. We seek out "replacement" parents in a lot of people, trying to find a different connection or bond that'll maybe take the pain away, but we never exactly find what we're looking for.

When we have big news, we know we can't call our parents or share this happiness with them. It just feels like a huge part of our life is missing and we feel shame that we don’t know how to fix it properly. Instead, we apply self-sacrificing behaviors to our daily life in an attempt to patch together the holes of our childhood. We go out of our way to make everyone around us happy, we give and give until there is nothing left in our hearts, then we find it in ourselves to give a little more.

But it seems like there’s nothing in this world that could replace the love from our parents that we are missing. 

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4. The good memories are the most painful.

We hang on to the good memories for dear life. Any of those fleeting, happy memories we have, we try to cling to. We replay them in our head when we're feeling down or angry, trying to make sense of it all. But in a way, these memories only cause more pain because we know life can never stay that way and will most likely never be.

5. We’ve learned how to do everything on our own and continue to live that way.

Everything is much more complicated because we didn't have a parent there to guide us or offer advice. We were forced to figure it out on our own and that’s a hard habit to break. The only person we can depend on is ourselves, that’s why we can be stubborn and stuck in our ways but trusting others isn’t easy for us. 

6. At times, we're almost too responsible.

Sometimes we get a little ahead of ourselves and can forget how to let loose. We're so used to always having to be the responsible one that sometimes we overdo it. We grew up too fast because we had to. We had to protect ourselves and fight for happiness, making sure not to end up the way our parents did. 

7. Feeling helpless and useless is something we’ve become used to.

We can't make our parents want to get help for themselves, we don't know what else to do, and as a result, we become self-loathing and wish we could’ve done more. But the truth is, there really was nothing we could do to change them. But that doesn’t stop us from feeling helpless in a world where everything is spiraling out of control. This leads us to grow up feeling useless and burdensome to those we care about. 

8. Our emotions are confusing. We feel angry and sad all at the same time. 

We have so much pent up anger from all the neglect, abuse, and maltreatment on top of their unwillingness to seek help for themselves. But at the same time, we're sad that this is the reality of it all. We’re sad they can't see life the way we do. We create an alternate life we envision where they get the help they need, move on, and have a happy life with us in it, but ultimately that’s not our reality. We feel so many different emotions about it all, and it varies day by day. Because of this, we grow up not knowing how to properly express our emotions. We bottle things up because the last thing we want to do is make anyone feel the pain we’re feeling. 

9. We try our best to accept things the way they are. 

We can't change our parents or the way things are. Instead, we try our best to accept it, and some days we're better at accepting the reality than other days. But it's always a constant struggle to try and accept things the way they are because we wish in our heart things were different. 

10. We always wonder how different life would be if our parents weren't addicts.

It's a sad, sad truth, but we always have these thoughts in the back of our minds - what if my parents weren't addicts? What if they were in my life, what if they were involved and supportive? How different would I have turned out? What if I could share my happiness with them? What if I never had to worry about them doing something stupid or hurting themselves? How different would life be if they were just my parents, my role models? What kind of person would I be today? These questions don’t go away with age, they follow us throughout our lives. They even affect how we raise our future kids, trying our absolute hardest to be the exact opposite of how our parents were. 

Remember you are not a byproduct of your past, and you certainly chose a different path than your parents did. You rose above it all, but still, carry all of this pain with you. Pain caused by your parents and their unwillingness to get the help they need and deserve.

You have a heart of gold that will always wish them the best, but you need to take hold of your own life because you deserve the same happiness every other person has experienced. 

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Nikki is a writer from Boston who has a passion for sports, baking, fitness, dancing, music, and adventure. She enjoys helping others through sharing her stories and experiences. Check out her website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

This article was originally published at PuckerMob. Reprinted with permission from the author.