Serious Effects of Substance Addiction on Parenting

Feb 9, 2021 | Parental Substance Abuse

We all depend on our parents or caregivers till we get into adulthood, and we look to them for unconditional support and love. Unfortunately, many parents fail to provide this much-needed love and support because of their substance addiction.

Most drug and alcohol addicts believe that their actions affect only themselves. But this is a big lie. They do not realize that their addiction is throwing their family, especially children, in big trouble. 

There are many homes where addiction is treated as an everyday thing. When parents from such households decide to raise kids in this environment, the chances of children getting harmed increase. Undoubtedly, this is a big reason to worry.

In 2007, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that around 8.3 million children in the United States live with an addicted parent. Children need parental care during their initial days, and when parents are under the influence of any substance, it can cause physical, mental and emotional trauma to their children. It can leave a negative impact on a child’s development in multiple ways. 

Physical Impact Of Parents’ Addiction On Children

Parental addiction can take a significant toll on the physical health of children even before their birth. If a mother is addicted to alcohol or drugs during pregnancy, she can harm children severely. Her addiction can lead to some serious defects to her child, such as:

  • Mental disorders
  • Organ malformation
  • Attention disorders
  • Growth stunting

Many addicted women are either scared or ashamed of their dependence on substances, and thus they avoid seeking the right parental support. Ultimately, they put the child’s life in jeopardy right from the beginning.

When parents are under the influence, they can barely manage to take care of themselves. It is highly impossible for them to look after their children in such circumstances. As a result, children lack the necessary care and support. For example, they avoid taking their children to a doctor when they are sick or can’t afford vaccines, dental care, etc. because a major chunk of their money is already being put to buy drugs. 

Moreover, children of addicted parents are more prone to anxiety-based illnesses such as migraine, ulcers, and asthma. If not treated on time, such medical issues can get dangerous. 

Under high, parents often cross the boundaries of morality. They do not have a sense of what is right and what is wrong. If they are angry or upset, there is a risk of sexual, verbal, or physical abuse from them to children. If a child is caught in such instances of mistreatment, it may leave them mentally and physically shattered. 

Such type of emotional complications, violence and lack of support can result in children feeling unwanted or unimportant. When such harmful elements come with abuse, it can be the reason for depression in children. Suicidal attempts or physical self-harming is common with children who live in such households.

Mental Impact Of Parents’ Addiction On Children

Problems such as insecurity, lack of communication and frequent chaos are normal with the families of addicts. Such a toxic environment at home turns children into being less productive. They do not do well in schools, and they are unlikely to get good grades. 

They may be truant, fail classes, or worse, be expelled. If a mother had continued her habit while pregnant, her child might struggle in school due to severe mental deficiencies. The backlash of their parents’ habits can make them disrespect authorities. In fact, they are more likely to get involved in illicit activities in future. 

Kids often try to copy their parents. When the parents are dealing with substance addiction, there are the chances of their kids doing the same. They may feel drug use is acceptable to cope with everyday stress. 

Emotional Impact Of Parents’ Addiction On Children

Addicted parents are more focused on their substance. They care more for their current or next dose. While they are more worried about scoring their drug or finding the place to use it, they often ignore their children’s emotional needs. This can cause some serious issues with kids such as social disconnections, trust issues, or they may end up being ashamed of their parents throughout their lives. 

Right from the birth of children, their bond with parents must be excellent. There should be a sense of connection between the kids and parents. It develops good feelings in children towards their parents. With an addicted parent, such connections are absent. Such kids develop dependence and trust issues with age, and they are more likely to be insensitive. 

Depression is the biggest and the most common enemy of such children. The lack of love, support, nurturing, pampering, security at their home leaves them emotionally under-developed. 

Seek Help Before It Is Too Late

Substance use is a serious health issue in the United States. Parental substance abuse can take a toll on a child’s entire life. Remember – Addiction is a disease, and it has the power to destroy your life. Plus, it can severely damage the life of your family members and loved ones. But luckily, it has a solution.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, help is always available. They have access to several potential treatments, such as residential rehabs. It can guide addicts into successfully quitting drugs and achieve the long-lasting sobriety. This not only saves their own lives but also prevents them from throwing the future of their children into jeopardy.

Author’s Bio

Jack Petti

Jack had his own experiences with addiction when he was just 12. He successfully got over it and now helping people with the same problems is his passion. He is a Chief Executive Officer at Renaissance Recovery and handles multiple roles. He works with clients and makes their journey to recovery more enjoyable.

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