Patterns Children Develop As a Result of Parental Substance Abuse

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Our childhood experiences shape us as we become adults. In so many ways, our self-concept is influenced heavily by the messages we received from our caregivers when we were children. Oftentimes if a child is effected by parental substance abuse, we can pick up negative messages that can turn into internalized beliefs. These can become so ingrained in our way of life, it may feel like these learned responses are just who we are. 

One of the most common ways parental substance abuse effects many children is experiencing discomfort dealing with emotions later in life. 

Patterns Developed from Parental Substance Abuse

“There are many traits we developed as children that served a purpose in our childhood but actually hinder us in adulthood.” – Lisa Firestone 

These learned messages affect us into adulthood, particularly with our emotional response and reactivity. Perhaps, as a child, we were never taught how to effectively identify, process or express emotions. Or perhaps our parents invalidated, shamed, or dismissed us for trying to express our feelings, resulting in an adverse childhood experience.

This could have looked like messages such as “suck it up!” or “you’re too sensitive and needy.” Even well-intentioned attempts from parents to help their children get over or move on from their emotional distress can be incredibly hurtful in the long-run. 

We carry these messages inside us, and eventually, we start to believe them. In an attempt to deal with it, we need to find a way to cope with this internal conflict and understand these repressed emotions. However, if we were never taught how to do so, we may turn to coping skills such as distraction or avoidance, which can be found in activities such as social media, video games, or drugs and alcohol.

These learned coping tools serve a function for us because they allow us to deal with our uncomfortable emotions when it becomes too overwhelming to sit with them and process them in a healthy way. 

However, how sustainable is it to use external distractions every time we experience an uncomfortable feeling? Eventually, we feel disconnected from ourselves and exhausted from constantly running from our true selves. 

How to Unlearn Traumatic Conditioning 

To be able to reconnect with ourselves and process our emotions in an effective and healthy way, we must unlearn the conditioning passed to us from our childhood. A way to do this is by choosing to redefine what it means for us to express and cope with our emotions- including the uncomfortable ones! 

Mindful living is a way to begin unlearning our conditioning. When we practice awareness without judgment, we are re-learning how to notice and identify our feelings. Journaling is a highly effective way to organize our thoughts and raise our emotional awareness. From there, we can begin to expand our coping skills to include tools other than distraction and avoidance. In addition, speaking with a therapist or counselor and processing these unhealthy coping patterns can help us develop mindfulness and identify the root causes of our negative beliefs systems that subconsciously rule our life.

Los Angeles Treatment Center

For those that are suffering from the debilitating effects of parental substance abuse, treatment and recovery is available. At Launch Centers, our Los Angeles Treatment Program helps individuals identify and process negative childhood experiences, unlearn internalized beliefs and begin to shift how they process difficult emotions. Our support staff and highly-qualified staff provides a safe structured environment to develop new skills and apply them to everyday life. Contact Launch Centers today for more information.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

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Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

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Eric Chaghouri, MD


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Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

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    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

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  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

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    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

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