Destination Hope Blog » Factors of Addiction: Past Neglect

Factors of Addiction: Past Neglect

Robin Williams’ death highlights the importance of educating and raising awareness about addiction and mental health issues.  Addiction develops from a number of factors, and the experiences of childhood can play a role even as an adult. Growing up with an alcoholic parent or a relative who had a substance addiction can certainly influence an individual’s future behavior, as can being the victim of child abuse. Childhood emotional neglect falls into the category of child abuse, and it is something we see every day at our addiction treatment facility.

What is Emotional Neglect?

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) occurs when a child’s emotional needs aren’t met. It may not be as overt or obvious as physical abuse, but it is still a form of abuse, and one that is frequently not addressed. This could be a child who rarely has contact with his or her parents, or a child who is taught to keep thoughts and feelings to themselves. Children who deal with CEN have learned that they must keep their emotions secret, no matter what the cost. They often crave attention, but don’t know what to do about it.

The Impact of CEN

A child who is not allowed to express emotion can grow into an adult who continues to keep emotion firmly under wraps. This can lead to all kinds of feelings, including unworthiness, a lack of confidence, loneliness, and isolation. Children who aren’t able to show how they feel may be impacted by CEN for their entire lives. They become experts at keeping their pain hidden, even from close friends and family members. There has been some speculation that the actor Robin Williams could have been suffering from CEN, as there are a number of indications that suggest he was dealing with a private pain and a lack of interaction with his high-profile parents during childhood.

CEN and Addiction

Childhood Emotional Neglect has a high correlation with addiction. It is not uncommon for someone going through addiction treatment to have a breakthrough where they realize that they were neglected as children. They start to see how this neglect informed their choices and behavior as adults, which can include developing an addiction to alcohol or other substances. Addiction is closely linked to depression, which can be linked to episodes of child abuse.

Recovering from CEN

Fortunately, you can learn to love yourself after a childhood of emotional neglect. It takes time, and it takes effort. It may be painful at times, but recovery from addiction carries significant rewards that are worth it. As you go through recovery and addiction rehab, it may mean touching on difficult parts of your past, and learning how to deal with emotions in a healthy way. This can set the stage for a future clear of addiction and a happier life for you and your loved ones.

If you or someone you love is suffering from the effects of alcohol abuse, substance addiction or any other type of addiction, please call us today.  Our addiction treatment counselors can help you deal with physical, emotional and psychological consequences of drug and alcohol abuse.  A substance abuse treatment program is effective, safe and has helped many men reclaim their lives. Destination Hope is a full service drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis treatment facility in Florida for men suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues.