Adult Addiction and Reactive Attachment Disorder in Children

Adult Addiction and Reactive Attachment Disorder in ChildrenMany people defend substance use or addictive behavior as an action that only affects the addict and no one else. The reality is that addiction affects everyone who is around the addicted person—and close family members are the most harmed.

Children of addicts are undoubtedly affected in many ways, both psychologically and physically. The neglect and emotional disturbance that a child suffers in this kind of situation—especially at a younger age—can cause the development of mental health issues, such as reactive attachment disorder.

What Is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

Reactive attachment disorder is a disorder diagnosed in children who develop an abnormal response to social interactions and a nonstandard way of handling social relationships. It can appear in one of the following two types:

  • Inhibited type When the child is unwilling to accept or initiate affection, comfort, care, and other forms of attention that a child normally needs from close adults.
  • Disinhibited type When the child shows indiscriminate familiarity with any close adult and may try to obtain affection and comfort from all adults, even from strangers.

Reactive attachment disorder has been attributed to a lack of care by neglectful parents. Some children diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder have also suffered from a type of abuse—although this is not always the case. The characteristic disturbance in social interactions can begin from infancy and may have lasting effects in the life of the child.

How Addicted Parents Trigger the Development of Reactive Attachment Disorder

The effect of addiction on children has been a focal point of concern for many addiction treatment and recovery programs. Addicted parents may not see how their way of life and behavior impacts the mental health of their children. Even other influential adults with addiction or mental illness can impact a child’s development. Actions that could lead to reactive attachment disorder in a child include:

  • Unresponsiveness to the child’s efforts to communicate
  • Creating hostile environments and relationships
  • Physical or psychological abuse
  • A lack of emotional support and comfort when in distress
  • Withholding love and affection from the child

As we know, addicted people can be so dependent on a substance or practice that everything else around them becomes irrelevant. This is even more harmful for children of addicts. The attention that should be given to the child is diverted to a practice that only results in adverse consequences.

Treatment for Addiction and Mental Illness

Children with reactive attachment disorder need to be treated under the supervision of a capable pediatrician and experienced therapist. Therapy sessions and psychosocial support for the entire family might be needed in order to guarantee the safety and recovery of the child. Education on parenting skills and developing positive interactions in a stable atmosphere is key to the success of the treatment.

Addicted parents in particular need to make important changes. By calling our helpline you can get further help to overcome addiction. We can help you to find intervention services, rehab centers, family counseling and other programs useful to achieve recovery. Our number is toll-free and there are no costs for our assistance. The lines are open 24 hours a day for your convenience. Act now to create a better life for you and the ones you love.