Madeline Martin, Clinical Supervisor at Glenbeigh ACMC Healthcare system, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation hospital, compares the COA’s adaptation to a chaotic home environment to a person who has just disembarked from a week-long cruise and still has wobbly knees despite being on solid ground.
“These kids don’t know how to walk without swaying, so to speak, so they create chaos around them,” she says. The boat has been rocking for them for so long that even when they’re free of an alcoholic home, they keep rocking it themselves, just to be comforted. “That’s what they know.”
Kids whose basic needs aren’t met grow to be more anxious adults, she says. They are more depressed, too. Kids who witness violence in alcoholic families are more likely to be traumatized again as adults.
“They call it a kindling effect,” Varkula says. “So once I’m traumatized once I’m more likely to take things and sort of internalize them.”