dad drinking while mom lights a pipe and child sits as drug-addicted parents affect him

Drug-Addicted Parents Affect Children

Drug addicted parents don’t just harm themselves. They can wreak havoc on the lives of their loved ones as well. Children are particularly affected by the behavior of drug-addicted parents. If you’re a parent in the process of recovery, it’s crucial to be aware of the impact addiction has on your children. This shouldn’t make you feel guilty or negatively view yourself. In part, recovery is about forgiveness, and it will be easier if you show compassion and kindness toward yourself. When your focus is on your next high, your children can get left behind. Once you understand how your addiction affects them, you can help them lead better, safer lives—and you too.

No matter how much your family has been affected by substance use disorder, the intensive outpatient rehab center in Washburn, PA, provides an option to stay close to your loved ones. During intensive outpatient rehab, you return home to fulfill parental obligations and rebuild your relationships with your child.

How Drug-Addicted Parents Can Impact Their Children

It’s plain to see the impact of addiction on those with substance use disorder. Seeing drug-addicted parents’ effect on children becomes a challenge. The relationship between parent and child is very influential and critical to their development. The actions, or lack thereof, of addicted parents with their children show up in a variety of ways.

1. Neglect

Unfortunately, children of drug-addicted parents are often neglected. This can happen when a parent is:

  • Trying to obtain drugs
  • Using drugs
  • High
  • Coming down from a high

Neglected children of addicts don’t receive the care, love, and guidance they need. They may grow up believing the lack of attention they receive is their fault. It’s challenging to build a positive self-image in this kind of environment. This kind of childhood can impact a child’s development in the long-term. Often, the effects persist well until adulthood. As well as lasting self-esteem issues, childhood neglect can affect relationships later in life, making it hard to bond with people and trust them. No child wants to be neglected, and no parent wants their child to feel alone. But alcohol and drug abuse make it difficult to put a loved one’s needs before your desires. Substance abusers don’t have to be stuck in this way of thinking and behaving. Treatment centers and therapy are designed to help you focus on what truly adds meaning, purpose, and value to your life, including your children.

2. Abuse 

Neglect is a kind of child abuse, but abuse takes many other forms as well. A drug-addicted parent’s poor mental health and altered state of mind when drunk or high can lead to abusive behavior. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, and/or psychological in nature. A parent addicted to drugs or alcohol may emotionally abuse their children in what they say (or don’t say) and in what they do (or don’t do). Verbal abuse can take the form of insults, name-calling, threats, harassment, humiliation, shaming, and criticism. This can leave children of addiction feeling, they have little self-worth or value. In brains that are still developing, this negative belief system can become ingrained and cause many issues later in life, like depression, anxiety, or their form of substance abuse.

Non-verbal emotional abuse includes withholding food, shelter, and other necessities from a child (physical neglect), and not giving them the attention or affection they deserve (emotional neglect). A substance abuser may become angry, aggressive, and irritable when they’re high or drunk, causing their child to be fearful of them in this state. Of course, it can be traumatic to grow up in a household where they can’t rely on their parents to look after their physical and emotional needs. Children of addicts can also feel traumatized by experiencing their parents in high or drunken states. Alcohol and drug abuse can rob you of the empathy you need to care for your child. But empathy can be learned and strengthened in sobriety. You can build a stable relationship with your child once again, and good relationships with the ones you love will help you stay sober as well!

3. Shame 

Drug addicted parents often behave in unpredictable ways. This can cause children of addicts to shy away from bringing friends over. A child’s peers may also bully them about their parent’s addiction or embarrassing behavior in public. Children of addiction may refuse to go to school events, gatherings, parties, or outings to avoid their parents showing up drunk or high and potentially acting inappropriately. In this way, drug-addicted parents can become a guilty secret, affecting a child’s chances of leading a healthy social life. Being a consistently sober and reliable presence in your child’s life will rebuild their respect for you. This can be a stepping stone toward a more loving relationship.

4. Poor Performance in School

Children growing up in a home with a drug-addicted parent are much more likely to perform poorly in school. This happens for different reasons:

  • A drug-addicted parent forgets to take their child to school.
  • They fail to stress the importance of education, so their child gets away with staying home.
  • Drug-Addicted parents can’t provide the support that other children get, like attending school meetings or helping with homework.
  • They create a toxic environment that makes it difficult for a child to focus on their schoolwork.

Regularly skipping school or arriving late can end up impacting a child’s grades. Addiction treatment for yourself in MA is a process that takes time, with mistakes and lessons learned along the way. As you take an active interest in your child’s education, your reason for using will become weaker. Instead, you have more reason to get sober, so you can provide a bright future for your child and prove to yourself and them that you’re able to do so.

5. Copycat Behavior

While genetics play a role in the likelihood of becoming a drug abuser, external factors also matter. A growing child looks to their parents as authority figures who offer guidance on navigating through life. If a child continually witnesses alcohol and drug abuse, they may see it as normal behavior that can be modeled. As an addicted parent trying to quit a drug or stop drinking, you can prevent your child from copying your behavior later in life.

Don’t use alcohol or drugs in front of your child. Hiding this behavior from your children is one of the best things you can do to protect them. But the very best thing is to seek treatment for your addiction and model self-care.

Addiction Treatment for Drug-Addicted Parents

Being a caring and attentive parent is a challenge anytime, but especially so when you’re struggling with an addiction. There are ways to do better, and knowing how your addiction affects your children can be the single most significant motivating factor in getting sober. As you restore order, stability, and tranquillity to your life, you can work on rebuilding a healthy relationship with your children and help them flourish. Contact Washburn House to take part in the following programs:

Call 855.298.3104 to speak with addiction specialists today about treatment options for those with children.

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