Parental Addiction Linked To Children’s Depression In Adulthood

The instability of a parent’s addiction can contribute to depression in their children – which follows them into adulthood, according to a study by University of Toronto researchers. The vicious cycle can be that those same kids, who watched their mother or father get high or stumbling drunk, could themselves, become addicts or suffer clinical depression later in life.

The paper, published online in the journal Psychiatry Research, outlined how investigators examined the link between parental addiction to drugs and alcohol and adult depression in their offspring. A representative sampling of 6,268 adults, drawn from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey, was used.

Researchers found 312 respondents admitted to having a major depressive episode within the year prior to the survey. Another 877 reported, during their childhood, frequently witnessing at least one parent drink or use drugs to the point where it caused problems for the family.

It was then determined those whose parents engaged in the aforementioned addictive and chaotic behaviors were more likely to become clinically depressed than their peers. Lead author, Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, also found these same individuals were twice as likely to be depressed as adults.

Fuller-Thomson further explained, “Even after adjusting for factors ranging from childhood maltreatment and parental unemployment to adult health behaviors including smoking and alcohol consumption, we found that parental addictions were associated with 69 percent higher odds of depression in adulthood.”

The study was co-authored with four graduate students at the University of Toronto, Robyn Katz, Vi Phan, Jessica Liddycoat, and Sarah Brennenstuhl. Katz suggested the possible cause of adulthood depression in the children of addicts was perhaps due to the “prolonged and inescapable strain” permanently altering the child’s reaction to stress.

The selfishness of addiction can make the home environment near unbearable. The situation can make kids feel helpless and encumbered with the sense of being responsible for their irresponsible parent – some of whom take advantage of the loved ones around them, including their own children.

Addicts will often do anything to meet their need – stealing money from relatives and friends or burglarizing businesses and homes. Turning to crime means parents frequently revolve in-and-out of jail, the recidivism adding to the instability and frustration.

Emotional, physical, and psychological abuse can be prevalent. Children can find themselves temporarily cycling through foster care only to be returned later to the so-called care of their parent.

Kids who endure constant toxic stress at home can be greatly aided by a network of stable, caring adults – grandparents, teachers, neighbors, coaches, and social workers – as kids crave consistency, structure, and love. Having some type of positive influence present can vastly improve the emotional and psychological well-being of a child dealing with an addict.

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