Messed-up Parents

Years ago I listened to Dr. Murray Banks talk about Mental Hygiene.  He shared that mental illness is not heredity.  The thing you may get is pretty peculiar parents which can precipitate using insanity as a means of survival.

Finally most states recognize that addict parents are a challenge for a child.

I am sharing the exact wording then I will share an expanded definition….

Parental substance abuse is an element of the definition of child abuse or neglect in some States.

For summaries of statutes and a more complete discussion of this issue,
see Information Gateway’s Parental Drug Use as Child Abuse at

Circumstances that are considered abuse or neglect in some States include:

  • Prenatal exposure of a child to harm due to the mother’s use of an illegal drug or other substance
  • Manufacture of a controlled substance in the presence of a child or on the premises occupied by a child
  • Allowing a child to be present where the chemicals or equipment for the manufacture of controlled substances are used or stored
  • Selling, distributing, or giving drugs or alcohol to a child
  • Use of a controlled substance by a caregiver that impairs the caregiver’s ability to adequately care for the child

I work in a high school, students on more than one occasion have discussed with me their parents drug use.  Sadly, I was not in a position to be able to help them.  People often don’t realize how wide spread the problem is either.  Too often society points out that minorities and lower economic groups and declare, “They are the problem.”

WRONG – I’ve read a variety of studies that clarify that drug abuse by parents crosses all cultures and all social/economic boundaries. An addicted parent can severely damage the physical, emotional well-being of a child.  More than one person with CPTSD has it because of a parents addiction.  Addiction is an equal opportunity home wrecker.

The parental addictions that are not legislated can be more encompassing.

Parents that are addicted to legal drugs….medications, alcohol, and other over the counter or prescribed products.

I was exposed to a mother that was addicted to dieting.  I was told that when I was in high school that I was too fat at 125 lbs and needed to lose at least 10 lbs.  My father could strike fear in our hearts by simply saying, “Your mother started a new diet.”

For me, I struggle with reading fiction.  I will read obsessively.  I severely limit my fiction reading because I will read rather than eat, sleep, go to work or take care of children.  I still enjoy an occasional fiction story but mostly I keep it to editing my sister’s wonderful books.

I also discovered that I cannot play some video games.  I was spending hundreds of dollars and huge chunks of time to be able to win the next level or challenge.  I still play games but they are games that I can walk away from not the ones that suck me in and rule my world.

In my studies, I learned that there are ‘addictive’ personality traits where it could be an addiction to many different things….this is a short list to get you thinking about how parents or your own obsessive behaviors may be impacting your life….

Goal setting, gambling, efficiency, sports, TV programs, Church, Service, pornography, social media, exercise, thrill seeking, friends, family…..

Some people may be shocked to see things like friends and service and church in my list…. but good things taken to an extreme can be just as damaging to relationships and healthy living.

Mirriam Webster dictionary might help understand why these could be on the list of addictions:

: having an addiction: such as
a : having a compulsive physiological need for a habit forming substance (such as a drug)

  • addicted to heroin

b : strongly inclined or compelled to do, use, or indulge in something repeatedly

  • addicted to chocolate
  • addicted to (watching) soap operas

I will be the first to agree that some addictions are more destructive to quality of life than others.  I decided that for myself I watch out for signs of putting a less important things above the things I value most.

Resolving issues of addictions starts with what are my values and where do I wish to spend my time.  Yes, I still play video games and enjoy social media, but I also make sure that they are not substitutes for living and achieving my life dreams.

If you believe that you are in the grips of an addiction, seek help.  Loosening addictions grip usually requires help from others, sometimes professional counseling.  There are special clinics for drug addicts and other addictive behaviors.  Break the chains that bind you.  Your life and happiness is dependent in finding a healthy balance of activities.

Addiction is a self inflicted prison.



2 thoughts on “Messed-up Parents

  1. Replacing one addiction with another is a huge problem. I work with dually diagnosed clients and my last field placement was at a substance abuse clinic, so I’ve witnessed the intersection of mental illness and substance abuse and how devastating it can be. Strangely, even though I watched my alcoholic mother cycle through depression and mania as a child, I’m not triggered by what my clients share.

    Teaching moderation to clients wasn’t explicitly part of my job description–daily groups took care of that, though I often co-led those groups. Instead, I had the privilege of getting to know them on a more personal level and help them work through their trauma (or, if you prefer, shorten their demons’ leashes). My group sessions focused on mindfulness and letting go of the past, which was a good balance with the regular leader, who had a much more direct style and tended to lecture.

    Moderation is difficult! I commend you on being able to set limits. This post is an excellent argument for various types of addiction recovery–complete abstinence or moderation (which many find difficult).

    On a lighter note, what games do you play? I’m a gamer myself and would love some recommendations.

    • I like simple games like Word connect. Lumosity helps with memory but it really is just a series of games that challenge my mind. I don’t care for higher levels that I have to spend money to pass. I don’t mind something that is a bit repetitive. Some of the Facebook games can be fun. I have to be careful that I choose those that I am not competing with others. I lose sight of relaxing and go after the win. I do like playing with my grandkids because the love to beat me.

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