Working With Multi Generational Addiction Patterns

How many times have you been told “you are just like your mother!” or your father? Many times we see multi-generational trauma patterns passed down the lineage. A great example of this is war post traumatic stress disorder untreated, that then gets experienced through lack of calm, attuned parenting to the children. The mental health of the parents makes a huge difference in their ability to parent. Mal-adaptive coping and parenting gets passed down by experiences to the children through epi-genetics, role modeling and internalization of values and beliefs.


Having one addicted parent increases the likelihood of children getting caught in the addiction cycle. The more chronic, and the more extreme the breakdown of family functioning as the result of the addiction- the more difficult it is to break the pattern. Yet, I know many wonderful people who have been sober for decades because they chose to live differently.

To be sober requires being real with yourself and with other people in your life. There are 12 step programs that offer amazing support within community, so you can experience yourself more fully. Counseling is a great step to get you started at looking at the darker sides of the addiction pattern, helping you to move through it. Addiction recovery is a lifelong focus.

Violence is the Misuse of Power

Violating someone’s personal boundaries is an intrusion, a violation of their safety at some level. In the face of working with violence in the home, safety rules have to be enforceable. Creating a safety plan with others is always the first step in dealing with the violence. Violence can come in the form of verbal abuse, physical abuse or threat of and destruction of property or threat of.

When children see others get beaten up, it is just as devastating as if they had been beaten up directly. If facing violence, establish safety rules first, even if you have to call in police or someone to help you. Counselling can help you set up healthy boundaries and safety plans to help you get back on track. Healthy communication, emotional literacy skills, self regulation creates peace.

Bully Power

This is mis-using your personal power, not appreciating or understanding how to work with personal boundaries. Being indifferent to the impact of your behavior on other people’s or animal’s experiences. A false sense or exaggerated image of yourself can get in the way of fairness, and being appropriate in social or work situations.

When there is a distorted image of yourself, other people ‘s dignity is sacrificed for perceived short falls. Intentionally causing shame, humiliation, and suffering of someone else is sick. What is the pay off from mis-behaviour? What benefit keeps this pattern going? Counselling can help you get this pattern shut down.

Servitude and Sacrifice

This has to be looked as part of gender roles and family, cultural expectations. In the short term a person can go on the sacrifice wheel, and maybe work overtime, or go without resources that other members of the family get. There are times when the family needs to rally around the specific care needs of a baby, young children, or seniors. In these cases, resources are available to help, to support the family, the individual.

A short term process means that there can be a balancing, a recovery and a normalization. When there are long term servitude and sacrifices required it can have effect on the personality and function of the individual. Anxiety, depression, loss of personal power can degenerate into mental health concerns.