By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.
In recovery for what I would come to realize were issues resulting from being an ACOA (Adult Child of an Addict), I discovered the panic attacks from which I had been endlessly suffering were a result of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). The traumas of my childhood and resulting, tumultuous young adult life had left me with a diagnosis shared by soldiers who return from war.
That’s what abuse and active addiction is—war, in the home. The exposed and victimized children become products of constant battle, traumatic war scenes and shocking survival tactics, rather than simply having the joy of being a carefree child. Instead of memories, we have flashbacks, and we typically suffer from PTSD, depression, addiction and other mental illnesses, as a result of the horrifying war waged within the abusive and addicted home. It is a cyclical effect.
But, of course—as we know—there is hope in recovery from addiction. However, if we’ve survived abuse and/or addiction in our childhood home, we need more than simply treatment for the symptoms of our pain. We must also face the images, feelings and constantly playing messages—residual negative energy—haunting our minds. We must seek the help of a professional—or team of professionals, if necessary—who can guide us through the necessary healing process.
There is access to counseling, available through treatment centers and some IOP’s and sober houses—like Stages of Recovery—and provided for the purposes of promoting successful recovery. Support groups, medical treatment for anxiety and depression coupled with therapy not only provides the optimum effect with regard to healing; it helps prevent relapse. But, it’s up to us to reach out and request the additional help, so we can be the change we need and break the vicious cycle. And, like the step we took to get sober, we must first admit there is a deeper problem than merely our addiction; that, in fact, the disease is a symptom of the toxicity to which we were consistently exposed in childhood. We must detox from that too.