Children from addicted families

In Germany, the nationwide action week for children from addicted families will take place from 12 to 18 February 2017. Under the slogan "Forgotten children give a voice to forgotten children" the self-help organization NACOA, interest group for children from addicted families e. V., calls for participation.

In Germany, every sixth child lives in a family in which one or both parents are affected by addiction. R the alcohol problem in Germany, this means that in one school class about three children come from a family with an alcohol problem. Or to put it another way, about every tenth house is home to a child whose father and/or mother has an alcohol disorder. About 50,000 children in Germany live together with one or two drug-dependent parents. The number of children with drug-dependent, gambling or eating disordered parents is not known.

Addicted parents endanger the healthy development of children. These children of addicted families need special attention - a sensitivity in their surroundings, safe and loving relationships outside their own family and professional support by competent help systems. The common opinion that the children concerned "do not understand" the circumstances in their family, i.e. do not want to realize, is wrong. Only about half of the children from addicted families become healthy adults. The other 50 percent are at risk of developing their own illnesses due to their parents' situation. Parents' addiction disorder has a problematic impact on children's development opportunities. The atmosphere at home is often tense, characterized by arbitrary behaviour and fluctuating moods. In intoxication parents often cross borders. It is not uncommon for quarrels to arise, sometimes even through violence or sexual assaults. The parents regret this behaviour afterwards and try to "make up for it". Often children have to adapt to extreme mood swings.

Children at the mercy of such situations in their parents' homes are subject to constant stress. This can lead to concentration and attention deficit and to a lack of performance. The children's conspicuous behaviour can also be a consequence, because they are exemplified by a conspicuous behaviour. If the stressful situation in the parent's home persists for a long period, the children can develop their own psychosomatic complaints or even their own addiction disorder.

However, there are also positive things to report: It shows that children from addicted families are well able to develop their own positive strengths from the existing difficult situation. They use their talents and often have special hobbies. They enjoy taking part in community activities and contribute well. Because of the problematic situations they encounter in everyday life, they can usually deal with problems in a positive and good way. They often have good ideas on how to proceed. They also appreciate good friendships.

How can people in the immediate vicinity support these children so they can grow up healthy? What can educators and teachers, but also relatives, friends and neighbours do to help? Here you can find advice from the research on resistance - the research that deals with the psychological resistance of humans:

Fundamental trust: When we meet these children in an atmosphere of trust, they learn that life has meaning and that there are solutions to problems.

When the child is ready for this, it helps to deal with reality in the form of conversations or by painting. This gives the child insight into the situation of parental illness. It is better able to make its own decisions and find an alternative way of life.

Healthy binding capacity is an important area. In most cases, children from addicted families have other caregivers with whom there are good connections. It is important to ensure that these connections are maintained as far as possible.

Children from addicted families often have a great ability to improvise. It is important to support their creativity, so they have a free opportunity to develop alongside the rather rigid experience in their parents' house.

Children's wards in hospitals often have clowns. We know from them what positive effects humour has on well-being and healing. So humour is another important area. For example, a fun theatre in the nursery or a nice children's birthday party in the neighborhood can make it possible for the children to laugh in a nice atmosphere.


Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany

Text: Nina Roth, Editorial Office: Marielle Becker