Childhood Set-Up For Addiction- Are You An Accident Waiting To Happen? (Overview Of Series)

In the next several blogs I will try to outline the childhoods that are often a set up for addiction. I will repeat that, and probably say it ad nauseum...the childhoods of those who love addicts are a set-up for second hand addiction. It is so very important to realize this for several reasons.  First, are you questioning if you love an addict? If you are wondering this, and you see the familiar childhood setting that I will describe- well, then, you know you are on the right track. Second, what are we creating in the next generation? If we can see what happens in addicted family dichotomy, we can then know what it is we need to shift and change so it doesn't happen again in the next generation. And third, if you notice that you did indeed grow up in the environment I am about to describe, you can then be aware that your default mechanism may be to find a mate that has an addiction problem. Knowledge is power, however you and your whole family will probably need help to avoid the vicious circle, which is why they call addiction "The Family "Disease

Now it is important to know that an addicted 'way of being' can show up inside of several family scenarios. Obviously outright drug or alcohol addiction of any person in family the will cause many of the family traits I will describe in the upcoming entries. Gambling addiction, eating disorders and food addiction will create the same problems. Sexual addiction, which often shows up as gross infidelities and pornography obsession, and also incest will create an addicted-like family environment. Mental illnesses, bipolar disorder, depression, severe physical illness, childhood trauma and the like will set a similar stage. And anyone who grew up in any of these environments will inevitably create many of these dysfunctional traits in their families.

It's a lot. I know. Which means that many of us grew up in a setting that was conducive to later problems with addictive lifestyle. In some ways we can begin to see that many of us in society are like mini  bombs. Our fuses are out waving in the wind and we are walking past myriad fires along the way. And we wonder why we blow up.

I will lead to the next entry with this thought. Someone I am very close to married a man who never drank a drop, and by all outward appearances could not have an addiction. After many years of marriage which to her occurred like a living hell, they found their way into addiction counselling. Her husband was promptly labeled a dry drunk- which is a term for someone who used to drink, and now doesn't, and gets no help. A dry drunk can often be more miserable and offensive than a drinker. My friend was confounded. How could her husband be a dry drunk. He never drank a drop, and got migraines every time he took a sip of beer. Closer scrutiny revealed an alcoholic brother and grandfather (who raised the two boys) as well as a history of childhood trauma. He had learned at an early age an alcoholic 'way of being', which in some ways was even harder to uproot. He had to be treated 'as if' he had a drinking problem, even though he never drank a drop! Now that is a vicious circle.

In the next posts we will explore what it looks like to grow up in an addicted kind of family environment. For the purpose of ease I may often simply call this environment 'dysfunctional.'  This simply means it is not a very functional way to live, which is very true, as you will see.

Lorelei F is a writer and speaker who educates people about second hand addiction as well as addiction in general. Please visit her blog at

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