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Collateral Damage, Part II

I think I am ready to talk about this a little more today. Addiction, whether alcohol or drugs, is something that just won’t go away on its own and you can’t pretend that it will. You also can’t pretend that it doesn’t affect you, if you are part of a family in which substance abuse or misuse is happening.

We are all affected (which surprises some alcoholics!), especially the children in a family, and it can last them a lifetime. My husband is an example of that. He grew up in an alcoholic household and struggled to know what “normal” was, when he became an adult. What, you mom doesn’t take a nap every afternoon? And your dad, he doesn’t disappear for weeks on end? You mean you’ve never been hustled off to foster care, because your ten-year old sister wasn’t taking care of you properly?

Even if a parent gets sober or clean, there is a residue from living in this uncertain environment as a child. And you carry the emotional baggage from a chaotic childhood around with you into adulthood.

For example, as an adult you may have or exhibit:

· Trust issues

· Fear of abandonment

· Fear of intimacy

· Low self-esteem

· Lying (when you don’t have to)

· Seeking approval

· Impulsivity

· Judgmental behavior

These all plague an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA) as well as an increased propensity towards substance abuse in his/her own life. That is why it is so important to find the help you need if you are an adult child of an alcoholic or other substance abuser. I am happy to report my husband sought out and got the help he needed with a therapist he trusted.

If this resonates with you, please seek out a therapist to help you navigate through the flotsam of your dysfunctional childhood. In the meantime, here are some organizations that support ACOAs and provide ongoing resources and community:

Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization ( and the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (

I hope this information helps you or someone you know.

In the meantime, as we all trudge into the fifth month of lockdown, due to the corona virus, we may be experiencing a bit of chronic stress ourselves. It is no wonder that preliminary reports on alcohol and drug abuse during this time is that it is increasing in relation to the pandemic. More than 35 states are noting an uptick in opioid-related deaths, and there have been record sales of alcohol and cannabis (where allowed) as well. More than likely, there is abuse as this is coupled with isolation, prolonged confinement, and other environmental stressors, such as being a frontline healthcare worker. Which is not to say that because of COVID-19, we will turn into a nation of addicts. It just indicates how difficult it will be for someone with a problem already or who has PTSD, to not abuse substances during this time.

As for the rest of us, the more insidious aspect of the pandemic is the non-stop low-level stress we encounter over a long period of time, and the biological and neurological responses of our regulatory systems in an effort to maintain homeostasis, or balance.

Allostatic load is the term used to measure this response, and its affects on our body as it tries to equalize and get back into homeostatic balance. Allostatic overload, from cumulative stress, has been shown to increase metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular and inflammatory conditions, and anxiety and depressive disorders are expressed when we are stressed.

That is why it is so important to maintain habits that support us in these challenging times, such as:

· Eating whole foods

· Getting enough sleep

· Maintaining social contacts

· Start a daily gratitude journal

Most of all make you and your health a priority. It’s vital for your wellbeing. And let me know how I can help.

Best in health,

Coach Michelle

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