When meth addiction takes over, your dad becomes someone else. Perhaps you remember a time when your dad wasn’t using — when things were normal or even happy. However, addiction is a dark shadow that overtakes good memories and replaces them with pain and chaos.
Methamphetamine addiction creates more damage than people understand, especially to the children of meth addicts. Unlike other drugs, meth can cause dangerous and frightening psychiatric side effects such as psychosis, rage and violent behavior. Growing up around your dad’s meth use could be a difficult experience for you to overcome.
Helping your meth-addicted father may help you find closure and healing from a childhood marked by trauma.
What It’s Like to Grow Up With a Meth-Addicted Dad
Unless someone understands methamphetamine addiction, it’s hard to describe the heartbreak and chaos of a household held captive by meth use.
Meth is extremely potent and addictive. This stimulant causes users to experience a rush of euphoria that makes them hyper-alert, energetic and agitated. You may have seen your dad go on long binges of meth use. Perhaps you were the target of his delusional ramblings or he got aggressive or violent towards you. Maybe he disappeared for days at a time, leaving you to fend for yourself.
Due to your dad’s meth use, you probably faced many experiences that no child should ever have to confront, such as:
- Physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse
- Witnessing your dad using meth
- Exposure to violence or criminal behaviors as a result of meth use
- Being forced to get high yourself
- Financial strain
- Being asked to steal or lie to authorities
- Responsibility to take care of yourself or younger siblings
- Becoming a caretaker for your father when he crashed
Symptoms of Meth Exposure in Children
With a dad on drugs, everything changes. Sadly, the side effects you experience from your exposure to meth use don’t end when you become an adult. Children of meth addicts are at a higher risk of developing emotional, mental and physical health problems once they enter adulthood. These issues could include:
- Behavioral or emotional disorders
- Self-esteem issues
- Poor academic or work performance
- Mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Distrust of authority figures
- Early experimentation with or addiction to drugs or alcohol
- Higher risk of addiction as an adult
How to Deal With a Father Addicted to Drugs
While your father’s meth addiction may have defined your childhood, it doesn’t have to define your whole life. You survived, and you can help yourself and others who have faced similar situations. As you move on with your life, you may even find that you have the strength to help your father confront his addiction. While this process is bound to bring up many painful emotions, here are some ways you can move forward:
- Remember, it’s not your fault. Remind yourself that you did not cause your dad’s meth use. You can’t control or cure the disease of addiction. All you can do is build your strength so that you can offer a helping hand.
- Join a support group. You are not alone. There are others whose childhood was defined by drug addiction. By hearing their stories and learning from them, you may heal and learn better ways to help your dad.
- Research treatment programs. Rehab and drug addiction treatment can offer your father his best chance at overcoming his addiction to methamphetamine so that he can find hope for a better life.
- Confront your dad’s addiction head-on. When you were a child, you may have felt helpless in the face of your dad’s meth addiction. However, now you can confront the issue head-on. Try to lead with compassion, though. Remember that your dad probably feels powerless in the grasp of his cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Learn How Gateway Foundation Can Help Your Meth-Addicted Dad
At Gateway Foundation, our evidence-based methamphetamine drug addiction treatment program offers hope to those living lives of addiction. For over 50 years, we’ve combined compassionate care, individualized treatment and the latest advances in addiction treatment medicine to ensure our clients receive the most comprehensive care possible.
If you would like advice about speaking to your dad about his meth addiction or you’d like to learn more about our drug treatment programs, we invite you to contact us today.