Bruce Perry writes that even when there are no major traumatic events, unpredictable stress and the lack of control that goes with this are enough to sensitise our stress response systems. This means that they are over-active and over-reactive. When a parent is stressed or suffering in some way this is easily passed onto the children. Emotions are contagious. Fear, rage and other emotions create turmoil not just in the person but in their environment, affecting those around them. Parents are using substances create a climate of fear in their children despite their desire to protect them.
Substances are appealing to use if you experience distress and dysregulation. They are easy regulators that quell stressful states. Easing distress is a pleasurable and rewarding feeling – creating a positive association with the substance or experience that creates that ease. An addictive cycle is set up.
Addiction is essentially an attachment substitute. In the absence of connection addiction steps in as a ‘pseudo-relationship’. Connection regulates and rewards us.