Adult Addiction and Reactive Attachment Disorder in Children

Adult Addiction and Reactive Attachment Disorder in Children

Reactive attachment disorder is often seen in children who have one or more parents struggling with addiction. Reactive attachment disorder is characterized by two types of behavior: a child who refuses to initiate or respond to social activity appropriate for a child his age, and a child who is overly sensitive or highly controversial in the way he responds to others. Children can be diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder at very early ages or they can develop the condition when their environment is changed or disrupted by addiction.

Reactive Attachment Disorder Symptoms

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) happens when a child is subjected to conditions that make him distrust his world and his caregivers. Some of the causes of reactive attachment disorder can include the following:

  • Premature birth
  • Prenatal drug or alcohol poisoning
  • Postpartum depression in the mother
  • Early separation from birth mother
  • Emotional detachment from birth mother due to mental disorders, or alcohol or drug addiction
  • Cruel treatment or extreme neglect in the early years of life
  • A mother who is too young to be interested in raising a child
  • Frequent changes in adult caregivers
  • Hospitalizations of the child
  • Undiagnosed and untreated pain or chronic illness
  • Serious injury
  • Painful and extensive medical procedures

Reactive attachment disorders in children can result in low self-esteem, delayed learning or physical development, anger problems, eating disorders, academic problems, and the inability to form and maintain healthy relationships.

Parental Addiction and RAD

Parents who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction change the way their children experience and view the world. Never knowing if the parent will be clean or sober, if they will have food to eat, clean clothes to wear, or someone to take care of them when they come home from school, can cause a child’s sense of security to crumble. Role reversal, where the child becomes the primary caregiver and decision maker for younger siblings and themselves causes delays in emotional and cognitive development. Parents who struggle with addiction make it difficult and sometimes impossible for their children to form attachments with others and have healthy relationships, which is vital in making them feel a part of the greater community.

Finding Help for Addiction

If you are a parent who struggles with addiction, getting help through rehab is the best way to care for your children. Your children feel the effects of your addiction more than you may realize. Getting help is the only way to restore their ability to have normal relationships. Call our toll-free number 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator. We are ready to answer your questions about addiction and help you find treatment.