How Substance Addiction Affects Children
Addiction to drugs or alcohol can take a severe toll on a person’s life, but oftentimes, the greater impact is on one’s family. Children in particular can suffer distinct consequences, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Parental substance abuse has been shown to correlate with a spectrum of developmental issues, ranging from prenatal challenges to scholastic problems. Understanding the effects of addiction is the first step toward recovery, both for the individual and for his or her family.
Early Life Risks
The dangers of parental drug addiction can begin even before a child’s birth. Substance exposure during pregnancy puts unborn children at notable risk, potentially stunting growth or resulting in more severe mental and physical difficulties. These can include:
- Diminished mental function
- Face and head abnormalities
- Impaired respiratory function
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
Substance use while pregnant can also increase the chances of a miscarriage, stillbirth or occurrence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, further emphasizing the importance of personal recovery.
Social and Scholastic Effects
Raising children can be a very demanding responsibility, but like any life duty, it’s typically made much more difficult when substance abuse enters the picture. A parent battling addiction is often ill-equipped to provide their children with the best care, whether due to conflicted attention, insufficient finances, or a combination of factors. This can have a direct impact on a child’s life outside the home.
Depression, attention deficit, and anxiety are a few of the mental and emotional disorders common in the children of addicted parents. These conditions can make it difficult for kids to focus and feel comfortable at school or in social situations, setting them up for greater challenges later in life. Furthermore, parental drug abuse is often observed and learned, increasing children’s likelihood of emulating these destructive behaviors in their own lives.
Often it’s a grandparent, aunt, or uncle who is in the best position to intervene when a substance problem exists, but it can be difficult to know how best to help. While extended family and friends can certainly be influential, convincing a loved one to seek help isn’t always a viable option.
In these situations, the best contribution is often to help children understand that they bear no fault for their parent’s illness. It can be helpful to discuss the basic nature of addiction, that it’s not uncommon and that it’s not necessarily a permanent affliction. Kids should know who in the family or community they can reach out to for support, and who to contact in case of an emergency.
Help is Available
Substance abuse treatment can prove to be an invaluable resource, and it doesn’t have to come at the expense of your other day-to-day duties. Maintain your schedule and find the help you need at Rehab After Work Outpatient Treatment Centers. Our programs are designed to be flexible, so you can start on the road to recovery without upending your life. If you’re unsure whether treatment is right for you, try our brief self-assessment. We’re ready to help you start living your best life today.