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Alcoholism affects not just the alcoholic, but that person’s whole family. Mothers who struggle with alcoholism put themselves as well as their young children, at risk for a number of social, emotional and psychological problems.

Mothers laboring under the burden of untreated alcoholism may neglect their children’s needs, withdraw emotionally, or lash out violently, all of which can cause lasting emotional trauma for the kids. Children of an alcoholic mother are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and mental illness and may have trouble forming healthy adult relationships due to trust, abandonment and other issues they developed as a result of their mother’s alcoholism.

Scientific research has now proven that the human brain can make new neural connections throughout life; however, this does not cancel out the importance of safeguarding healthy brain development during the childhood and teenage years. Adolescents and teens who take in substances — including alcohol, prescription or street drugs — can negatively affect neural development and brain function throughout their life. In fact, use of substances can artificially alter which brain areas are over- or under-utilized. This is especially true in the adolescent brain. Today’s best practices in adolescent and teen drug treatment protocols have developed out of this understanding of these years as critical for brain health and development.

“The neuroscience of the mind” is an area of scientific research that is just now beginning to yield rich and vital insights into the nature of brain chemistry, function, plasticity (ability to adapt to injury) and more. These insights are now affecting how drug treatment is administered, monitored and maintained. For instance, through brain research scientists and treatment professionals now know much more about how drugs interact with various brain systems, including the so-called “reward system,” which is the part of the brain where drug cravings are introduced and reinforced. This research is changing how addicts are treated over the short and long term.

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When you think of an alcoholic, you think of someone unable to hold down a job, finish their education or maintain a relationship because their drinking gets in the way. You may think of someone whose drinking causes frequent legal problems, or someone who experiences physical withdrawals if they try to stop drinking for even a day.

Even today, alcoholism remains a widely misunderstood disease. The proliferation of common myths about the causes, nature and treatment of alcoholism only makes it harder for people suffering from addiction to alcohol to get the help they need. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, you need to know the truth behind these common alcoholism myths.