How Children Are Affected By Addiction

Written by Chloe Nicosia

How Children Are Affected By Addiction Can Cause Emotional Trauma

Have you wondered how children are affected by addiction? You may have a family member with children who is dealing with addiction. The sad fact is the child of an addicted parent has a four times greater chance of becoming an addict. Genetic weakness and exposure to the psychological and behavioral actions of the addicted parent places a child at a high risk of addiction.

How Children Are Affected By Addiction

Every child is different, and so their reactions to an addicted parent or sibling will vary. There are some consequences that are common to many children caught up in this difficult family situation. The following are some of the ways how children are affected by addiction.

  • Children are shy and withdrawn.
  • Communication with others is difficult.
  • School work suffers.
  • The child becomes a caregiver for the addicted parent.
  • Children live with the fear their parent will be arrested.
  • Because money is spent on drugs, there is often not enough food.
  • The child sometimes believes he or she is the reason the parent takes drugs.
  • The child has low self-esteem issues.
  • Children may inflict self-harm (such as cutting).
  • The child may suffer from emotional and physical abuse.
  • A child may be left alone at home while parent is out partying.
  • Children are isolated from friends and classmates because they are ashamed.
  • Children are often neglected.
  • Children may start acting out because they are overwhelmed by the parent’s behavior.

Sometimes a child will pour all their energy in excelling at school, taking care of the home, younger siblings, and even fixing the meals. They store all their emotions away for a time in order to hide the evidence of a dysfunctional family. These children do not participate in extra curricular activities, join sports teams, or have any social activity outside of the hours they attend school.

Effect Of Substance Abuse On Children

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has determined an estimated 6 million children live with at least one parent that abuses drugs, alcohol, or both. It’s extremely difficult to stop the generational cycle of substance abuse from parents to children. The effects of substance abuse on children are many and devastating. They see things happen in the home that they don’t talk about and are too young to understand. Witnessing a parent who is high on drugs or drunk can be very frightening. Parents may be arguing and inflict physical harm on one another or their children. Quite often if a child is present, he or she will be blamed for the argument and then punished. In the worst cases the child may be physically and/or sexually abused. When a child has no one to talk to, they act out. Sometimes they are mean to other children in school, or they miss school saying they are sick. It’s understandable that a child feels confused, frightened, sad, helpless, and angry because he or she has no control over what happens. Without counseling, he or she will continue to feel bad and may take it out on others.

Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic has impacted the lives of millions of children, and they have watched a parent or parents change from loving and caring people into selfish individuals. Children living in homes where one or both parents struggle with addiction face each day with frightening uncertainties and unanswered questions.

  • “Will I get any food today? “
  • “Will my parents be fighting”?
  • “Will I get yelled at or hit?”
  • “Do my parents love me?”
  • “Will my parents get arrested?”
  • “Will I wind up in foster care?”
  • “Is it all my fault?”

The opioid epidemic has placed thousands of children into foster care every year. What hope do they have of a normal life? For many of these children, the future holds a repeat of their parent’s life.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction, call Better Addiction Care (BAC) today at 1.800.429.7690. BAC’s free referral service will help find you an addiction treatment facility that can help you take your life back. Detox, rehab, therapy, and family counseling sessions can help your child understand what addiction is, the pain it causes, and how individuals and families can be restored. Call BAC today at 1.800.429.7690.

Sources:

https://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/the-opioid-epidemic-and-its-effect-on-young-children/

http://hamrah.co/en/pages/children-of-addiction/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201607/harvard-study-pegs-how-parental-substance-abuse-impacts-kids

http://www.preventchildabuseillinois.org/subsabuse