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Do children of addicts marry other addicts? Indiana's numbers increase yearly

There is no talking and reasoning, but instead a lot of yelling and fighting. This way of life is perpetuated and the cycle continues.
There is no talking and reasoning, but instead a lot of yelling and fighting. This way of life is perpetuated and the cycle continues.
Photo Credit: Flickr Photo/ rj.tempest

People tend to gravitate towards ways of relating to others that are familiar to them. If your family tended to talk through problems when you were a child, you are likely to surround yourself with people who use communication to solve disagreements. If your family tended to ignore problems during your childhood, you likely do not feel comfortable discussing issues that may come up in relationships.

This can make an isolated and unhealthy environment. There is no talking and reasoning, but instead a lot of yelling and fighting. This way of life is perpetuated and the cycle continues.

A little more than 18 percent of the people living in Monroe County are divorced, second only to Indiana's Wayne County, which had 19 percent. Nationwide, 10.7 percent of people over 15 are divorced. Indiana is one of a handful of states that don't track divorce statistics. So it's hard to tell if the percentage is caused by a large number of divorces. Many have a family history of alcoholism.

People tend to choose to be around those who affirm their identity. For instance, if you feel that you are worthy of respect, you will tend to be in relationships where people respect you. One would think that everyone would want to be around people who compliment them or make them feel better, but studies show that, instead, people most often seek feedback that is identity-reinforcing. Children of alcoholics often have a poor self-image, and, therefore, may choose an alcoholic mate who affirms their negative identity.

People continue to use the same coping strategies they learned as a child once they are adults. Third, people develop both healthy and unhealthy coping strategies to deal with stress over their lifetime. In particular, children of alcoholics develop coping strategies that help them survive the chaos of their early home life. However, people retain these same coping strategies when they are adults, and in turn, these coping strategies make them relate well with alchoholics. As a child, you have may survived the dysfunction in your home by being passive.

You tended to go with the flow and stay out of the way when your mother began to get angry while drinking. This served you well as a child—you survived. However, as an adult you continue to use this same pattern of coping, but now it makes you attractive to those who need you to be passive in order to continue their alcohol use.

People tend to choose relationships that make them feel needed. For the child of the alcoholic, they were often needed to be the helper or the rescuer and were given praise when they took on that role. Thus, they may feel that this is the primary way in which they can make a deep connection with others, and may fall into patterns of helping others without even realizing it.

In the context of a romantic relationship, this can create powerful feelings of intimacy, thus setting up the adult child of an alcoholic to feel a strong bond with someone who needs them like an alcoholic does. These principles are also often true if you grew up in a home where people were abusing substances other than alcohol. The roles of enabler and addict begin to evolve in the beginning of a relationship, and the “brokenness” continues.

Someone that has these deep issues that can have many unhappy relationships or marriages because of the broken thoughts they have since early childhood. Is it hopeless, absolutely not. Counseling and education will help anyone work through these deep seeded issues and get well. Peace.

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All articles by Wendi Swindell are under copyright and cannot be reposted in part or completely without written permission by the author. For permission, email


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