Addiction to drugs and alcohol cause many problems for both the addict and the addict’s family. The family dynamic changes and becomes distorted when addiction rules the thoughts and behavior of family members. Saddest of all is the effect of addiction on innocent children. The years of growth and development of the child are thwarted by the abuse and neglect of parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Mother-Daughter Addict Relationship
Young girls with mothers who are addicts, and who are also their primary female role models, can suffer in many ways in their relationship dynamic. When a mother is self-absorbed with her addiction she becomes emotionally distant and maternal warmth and nurturing fall to the wayside. Because the daughter does not receive the validation she needs from her mother she is affected in many ways. The daughter will not have a clear sense of self and her identity will be confused. The lack of interaction with the mother can make the daughter become emotionally unstable and she will lack confidence in herself. The spoken and unspoken communication of the mother makes her daughter feel unloved and unworthy.
How the relationship develops:
An addicted mother may become dismissive toward her daughter. She may rarely communicate with the child and barely listen when the child speaks. She can make the child feel insignificant and the child may question the validity of her need for love, affection, attention and connection with her mother. Some mothers become combative if pressured to perform in motherly ways toward the daughter. Because the daughter’s need for her mother’s love and attention is so great, she may begin to demand it by saying so. This can lead to a complete rejection of the child by the mother. The mother may withdraw and avoid the child even more.
Some mothers of addiction can be very controlling and manipulative. They rarely acknowledge their daughter’s needs or worth, but instead promote a sense of insecurity and helplessness in their child. They tend to micromanage their child and tell them it is for their own good because they cannot exercise good judgment. The daughter begins to doubt her own abilities and fears that she is inadequate in accomplishing anything.
Mothers who are addicts are usually emotionally unavailable and will purposely withdraw as their daughter approaches. Often there is a lack of physical contact such as hugging, kissing, comforting or caressing. The mother may also become unresponsive to her child’s cries or displays of emotion or affection. Some mothers will literally abandon their daughter altogether. Literal abandonment leaves scars and many unanswered questions. Daughters of abandonment often feel incomplete without the presence of the parent who left. They often become emotionally hungry and desperately needy for love and affection. If the daughter has a grandparent or aunt to replace the mother it will help, but many daughters remain clingy in adult relationships and require constant reassurance from family and friends.
Mother addicts are usually too high to perform simple daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. Meals are often made by the daughter, along with her taking care of other chores and childrearing if there are younger siblings. The daughter very often has to take care of the needs of the mother. She rarely has spare time to do much else other than attend school and take care of things at home. Some daughters may look to escape their difficulties at home by running away. Others are so filled with guilt at the thought of leaving that they never do.
A mother who is an addict is usually unpredictable and inconsistent and because her inhibitions are reduced she may say or do hurtful things to her child. The mother may leave the house for days while she is out on a drinking binge. She may return home with a male addict and this can become a dangerous situation for the daughter if the male is a sexual predator or physically abusive.
The daughter as an adult:
Daughters of addicted mothers suffer many indignities. Many grow up to be depressed and angry adults. They have difficulty forming meaningful relationships and may become addicts themselves. Daughters of addicted mothers need to receive the love, caring and therapy they need to grow up normally. Rehab centers, churches and community centers should all be involved in making this a possibility for the daughters of addicted mothers.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.