Are you a parent struggling with a drug addiction? You are well aware of the effects of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction in your own life. From its effects in your work life to your social life, there is very little left untouched. But have you considered the effects it may have on your children? You may think you hide your addiction from your children but they are more aware of what is going on than you know.
Child Abuse and Neglect
The definition of child abuse and neglect according to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act is:
“Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caregiver, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents and imminent risk of serious harm.”
When you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the children under your care are at an increased risk for abuse or neglect. The dangers range from physical or verbal abuse to maltreatment of the child.
Older Children Are Affected Too
Although it is easy to imagine how younger children are greatly affected by their parent’s abuse of drugs and alcohol, there are effects on older children as well. According to an article on the Phoenix House website, older children learn at a much younger age to care for themselves and their younger siblings. Adopting this responsibility while they are still very much a child themselves, causes children to grow up much too quickly and they miss out on much of their childhood.
Children thrive on routine but when a parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol, that predictability is often lost. Promises Treatment Centers mentions the unpredictability of addicted parents. Children are never sure of their parent’s mood and reactions. Household rules and structure are often in limbo as well in these households making life very uncertain for the children involved.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that there are 8.3 million children in the U.S. living in a home with at least one parent who abuses drugs or alcohol. These children quickly grow up and move out of their homes but there are often long term consequences. Unfortunately there is a correlation between growing up in a home around drug and alcohol abuse and adopting that lifestyle themselves. Talk with your children today about your struggles and encourage their sobriety.
Children deserve to have their innocence preserved for as long as possible. Protect your children from the devastating effects of drug and alcohol abuse by getting help today! It is never too late to change your life.