Can Children of Drug Addicts Become Addicts TooDr. Collins
Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown tragically died at the age of 22. Only three years have passed since the death of her mother. Can a parent’s drug addiction have a negative influence on their children? Let’s find it out.
In January Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unconscious in her bathtub. After being moved to hospice care, she was in a medically induced comma. She passed away on July 26. The sorrowful news makes people search for a reason of a young girl’s death. Some can see a connection with the death of her mother, Whitney Houston. Houston was found drowned in a bathtub. According to the results of an investigation, her death was caused by heart disease and cocaine use.
Houston’s struggles with drug addiction were not a secret. At the interview with Oprah Winfrey, Houston told that she used to have problems with drugs. Together with her ex-husband Bobby Brown, they took marijuana and crack cocaine.
A famous singer, who has sold more than 140 million albums, confessed that drug addiction was a drag on her career. Whitney Houston explained, “I had so much money and so much access to what I wanted. I didn’t think about the singing part anymore.”
Being in the public eye all the time, Whitney found it really difficult to struggle with drug addiction. Can we imagine the influence of singer’s problems on her daughter? The impact of mother’s drug addiction could be huge.
There is no information concerning whether Brown’s death is connected with addictions. Of course, it was incredibly difficult for a 19-year-old girl to lose her mother to drug addiction. This situation reminds about Peaches Geldof, whose mother’s death was caused by an accidental overdose at the age of 41. At that time Peaches was 11. Her mother was at home with the youngest daughter, 4-years old Tiger Lily. Fourteen years have passed. Peaches died under circumstances that were similar to those when her mum died. Peaches was at home with her youngest son Phaedra. Her death was caused by heroin.
Elizabeth Burton-Philips, the representative of DrugFAM, explains that there are different types of bereavement. When children lose their parents because of addictions, their state is complicated. This process can be called a double bereavement. Elizabeth Burton-Philips explains, “When you have someone in the family who has an addiction that’s a bereavement in itself.” Drug addicts complicate their own life and give their relatives a hard time too. If they don’t want to be cured at rehab centers, the outcomes may be very sad. CEO of charity DrugFAM continues, “You lose the mother or father they were. Then there’s the dreadful double whammy with death. It’s what’s called the second bereavement.” At first, people lose their relatives to addictions. When their loved ones die, people go through the process of grief. At that time they suffer from different conflicting feelings.
Living with a person who takes drugs wears people down. Death of parents is much harder for those whose life had already been very stressful. Dr Christine Valentine, the author of many works concerning bereavement and substance abuse, states that beside sadness and sorrow such people have a sense of stigma. She says, “They’ve suffered bereavement but because of the stigma attached to this kind of death, somehow the family gets tainted. People think, they must have been complicit and they should have prevented it. Sometimes it’s even within families. The person can then feel they don’t have the right to grieve or be supported.”
Sometimes relatives forbid children to tell why their parents have died. There are kids who decide not to talk about such things. Sally, a volunteer for charity COAP (Children of Addicted Parents and People) helps those children whose parents are struggling with addictions. Sally lost her mum to alcohol addiction. When she was younger, Sally was afraid to invite her friends because she was ashamed that her mum could be drunk. After mum’s death Sally didn’t want to tell people about its real cause. She didn’t want people to think badly of her mum. Now Sally can tell the truth. She understands how important it is to discuss the problem, not to keep them to ourselves.
Keeping their problems in secret is one of the biggest problems people have after losing their relatives to addictions. Elizabeth Burton-Philips helps people to break the silence of grief and feel free to discuss their feelings with other people. She says, “It’s much easier to say ‘my mum had breast cancer’ and ‘my dad died of a tumour’, but I think more than anything they need the opportunity just to talk about the mother or father that was the person and not the addict. The good times but also to process the difficult times.”
Guilt can be another problem. Young people often blame themselves for their parent’s death. Thinking that they could have prevented the death, children try to cope with the sense of guilt.
Another issue can be the process of post-bereavement when family members forget about the children. Kids that don’t get enough attention and support can hide their feelings and follow a pattern of their parent’s addiction. Besides, losing a parent to an addiction, children may have physical and mental health problems.
Thus, there are two important things that we should understand:
1. If you are a parent, stop ruining your life. Visit a rehab center. Get help. Let your kids be happy again.
2. If you a child, don’t struggle with your problems alone. Stop bottling your feelings in. It’s important that you speak about the problems. We can help you to cope with everything.