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The fact that addictions and problem use impact children on many levels cannot be disputed. This is a reality whether children begin this life impacted by pre-natal alcohol/drug exposure or move through developmental years in the presence of a caregiver with addictive behavior. 

Children do not yet have the cognitive capacity to filter information and are literal “black and white experiencers.” Beliefs about the self and about the world form early and are stored subconsciously. These dysfunctional beliefs continue to impact one’s life experience long into adulthood. 

My Dad used to fly into rages when he was drinking, I learned to stay in the background and avoid conflict.

My Mother was often drunk and emotionally unavailable, I learned to minimize my own needs.

Most often, there will rarely be a more important teacher then that of the parent/guardian. Therefore, it is imperative that the addict caregiver become fully aware of the impact on dependent children and begin to create simple practical shifts. Functional addicts especially have the ability to create needed safety, structure and loving rituals for children. Those addicts or problem users who have lost the capacity to stay gainfully employed and/or to meet basic safety and emotional needs are at risk for having their children removed by protective services. 

Children who experience caregivers becoming stable will begin to mirror healthier thoughts, feelings and behaviors themselves. Caregivers who choose to become the CEO of their lives are more apt to raise children who will become healthy adaptive functional adults.

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