When families welcome a child through adoption, they do their best to provide a loving, stable home environment. Though parents want to do everything in their power to ensure their child grows up happy, healthy and well-adjusted, adoptees’ unique background makes them more vulnerable to developing substance use disorders due to a combination of various factors.
In observance of World Adoption Day on Nov. 9, what are some of the effects of adoption, and how can you overcome them?
1. Adoption Trauma
While adoption can create a new, nurturing family and give a child a better chance to grow up surrounded by caring adults, adoptees experience higher-than-average rates of depression and PTSD and may continue to feel grief and fear throughout their lives.
Many adoptees end up in a much safer environment than they otherwise might have, but that does not necessarily stop them from wondering how their lives could have been different if they had been able to stay with their birth parents. Even children who were adopted as babies and have no memory of their biological family may grow up feeling like something is missing or that nobody understands them.
2. Adverse Childhood Experiences
Being adopted or spending time in the foster system are potentially adverse childhood experiences. ACEs are sources of ongoing stress that can cause chronic toxicity and illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least half of the top 10 leading causes of death link back to ACEs.
Prevailing research suggests that stressful or traumatic events are especially impactful during childhood because they happen while your brain is still developing, before you have the emotional maturity to understand the world around you. As a result, you may have trouble dealing with complex feelings and seek to sweep them under the rug instead of confronting them head-on.
3. Attachment Issues
Attachment is the framework we use to develop relationships with others. Ideally, every child would grow up with at least one nurturing, loving caregiver. However, if trust and connection are lacking, a child’s capacity to form secure and meaningful relationships can suffer. Adoptees who struggle to bond with their new family might fear rejection, be uncomfortable with physical affection and prefer to self-soothe instead.
If you’ve felt isolated, misunderstood, unwelcome or otherwise “different” your whole life, drinking or drug use might seem like a viable solution to your inner turmoil. While substance abuse may temporarily dull the pain and allow you to avoid dealing with your problems, keeping yourself numbed will prevent you from experiencing the growth you need to become a better version of yourself. The mounting mental and physical health issues will also chip away at your quality of life.
Start Your Healing Journey Today
At PACE Recovery, we have created specialized programming to cater to adoptees’ unique circumstances, needs and concerns. We know the effects of adoption can lead to substance use disorders and long-term mental health issues, and we use evidence-based therapies to help adopted people identify and address the root causes of these illnesses. When you are ready to learn more about personalized men’s-only recovery in California, reach out to us.