Growing up in Recovery When You’re an Adult

Growing up in recovery can mean a couple of things.  Some children whose parents are in recovery begin to participate in recovery efforts early in their lives.  This is a very valuable and much-needed experience for many children in such families.  Addiction is a family illness in many ways. All members of the family, no matter how young, are negatively impacted by a family member’s addiction.

However, there is another way in which we can grow up in recovery.  Many adults who enter addiction or codependency recovery still have unresolved issues from childhood that sabotage their current lives.  It is common for such unresolved issues to be deeply ingrained unconscious patterns that lead to and perpetuate addiction or codependency later in life.

The Traumatized Child as an Adult

The unhealed traumatized child as an adult is often called the adult child.  This means that childhood issues are still unresolved and still exert a great deal of negative influence upon the health, functioning and overall sense of well-being for that person.  People who were abused or neglected his children can enter adulthood with many deeply ingrained difficulties already working out in their lives.  Among these difficulties are a sense of shame, poor self worth, confused identity, disordered interpersonal boundaries, anxiety, depression, a fear of abandonment and a panicked dependency upon others.

Recovery Helps Us Mature

Adult children can find a great deal of healing in their treatment and recovery efforts. Resolving trauma-related issues from childhood can help them step out of the sense of helplessness instilled in them as children in a chaotic and painful environment. They can develop a sense of self-worth, the ability to take charge of their lives and an overall sense of personal empowerment to create a life they want to live. Also, they can let go of the fear of independence and clinging to dysfunctional relationships, substance use or other compulsive behavior to manage their fear and anxiety.

There are many areas in which we develop skills and mature in recovery. These are the result of steady efforts made in treatment and other recovery activities. Some of these include:

  • Self-care
  • Establishing healthy relationships
  • Identifying, communicating and managing emotions
  • Age appropriate independent functioning
  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making
  • Self-directed behavior
  • Goal setting and achievement
  • Healthy coping skills for daily life and crises
  • Healthy management of intimacy