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Is Adoption a Factor in Your Adult Child’s Addiction?

Many studies have proven the correlation between childhood physical and/or emotional trauma and developing an addiction later in life. This direct link has been a well-known fact in addiction research. The psychological signs of emotional abuse that an adopted individual shows can give insight to their causes of addiction in the future.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), adoption can be a risk factor for addiction. “As with any other disease, vulnerability to addiction differs from person to person, and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs will lead to abuse and addiction. Risk factors may be either environmental (such as conditions at home, at school, and in the neighborhood) or biological (for instance, a person’s genes, their stage of development, and even their gender or ethnicity).”

There are many biological and environmental factors that contribute to an individual’s likelihood for forming an addiction. Adoption is considered to be one of these environmental influencers. The various emotional trauma symptoms and psychological trauma symptoms that an adopted person faces while growing up can have a significant impact on their risk of developing addiction.

Emotional Tendencies

Here are a few emotional issues that adopted individuals may have:

Abandonment — Even though the individual was adopted by a loving family, they may still feel abandoned from their original family. This can take a toll on their ability to form healthy family, friend, or romantic relationships in the future because they will be afraid to be abandoned again.

Identity — Individuals who were adopted may have problems discovering their identity. They may not share the same cultural background as the other children in their communities, so they may not know where they should fit in with the rest of their society.

Grief — No matter how long the individual knew their birth family, loss plays a huge role in adoption. The individual may have vivid memories of their original family. If a situation is to arise in their new life, such as divorce, the loss of a loved one, a breakup, etc., they may be reminded of their initial loss with their birth family.

Control — The biggest choice in the individual’s life was made without their consent. Since they had no control over whether or not they were going to be adopted, they may face control issues growing up.

Shame — Adopted individuals may also feel shame about their situation. This can lead to low-self esteem or self-destructive behaviors as they grow up. They may also feel guilt when thinking about their birth family who may be living in poverty or do not have the same opportunities as them.

Risk of Suicide

Margaret A. Keyes, Ph.D lead a study at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis  in 2001 that researched the risk for reported suicide attempts in adopted offspring in comparison to non-adopted offspring. Keyes found that there was a four-fold increased risk for the reported suicide attempts for the adopted offspring.

“The risk of suicide attempt associated with adoption may be due to various influences. von Borczyskowski et al., confirmed that Swedish adoptees carry a higher burden of heritable risk for suicidality, that is, biological parents’ substance abuse, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric illness explained one-third of increased risk of suicide attempt in domestic adoptees. Factors unique to relinquishment by a biological parent (e.g., early trauma, institutional care, attachment issues) may also elevate risk for suicidal behavior later in life. . . adoptees were further distinguished from non-adoptees by moderately large differences on family discord and smaller differences on academic disengagement,” said Keyes.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, call SAFE Prevention at 1-877-503-2608. At SAFE Prevention, you will be able to find the resources you need for addiction prevention and treatment to effectively help your unique situation. Call SAFE Prevention today to get started on your journey to long-term recovery.

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