Understanding The Effects Of Drug Use By Parents On Children In America

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Written By Charlotte Miller

As children, we’ve always looked up to our parents to find inspiration to become successful in our life. Their unconditional love and support make us who we are and who we want to be.

However, some parents can’t provide the same encouragement or assurance due to alcohol or drug addiction. In fact, according to a report, almost 25% of children under the age of 18 get exposed to drug or alcohol abuse from their parents.

The core effect of parental substance abuse tends to be two-fold – 

  • Children get exposed to drug abuse, and 
  • The parents fail to offer the fundamental psychological, physical, and emotional care.

Although it’s not talked about enough, the problem of parental substance abuse can lead to a lifelong addiction problem for the children. It can also affect their sense of parenting in the future and cause marital issues.

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The Impact Of Parental Addiction On Children

As per Psychology Today, almost one out of five children in the USA grow up under a parent struggling with drug abuse. Undergoing the trauma of their father or mother being entangled in the curse of addiction can have a long-term effect on them, including –

  • Being physically or mentally abused by their parents.
  • Taking upon drug addiction due to being interested.
  • Getting depressed due to being neglected continuously.
  • Becoming emotionally unstable.
  • Getting physically weak due to not having to eat correctly.
  • Developing dysfunctional attachment during their adulthood.
  • Blaming themselves for the condition of their parents.

In extreme cases, the parent can remove their child from their house and admit them into foster care as well.

How Does Addiction Affect Children?

As mentioned, sometimes, the addictive behavior of a parent can lead a child to be curious about drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, this problem is more common amongst the teenage community, as they’re more poised to lead a carefree life.

However, it, in turn, can have the same effect on them as their parents are going through. The signs of substance abuse in a child can include –

  • Suffering from extreme mood swings.
  • Decreased confidence and inhibitions.
  • Showing an out-of-character or irresponsible behavior.
  • Being unable to handle their study-related commitments.
  • Not making friends or talking to anyone anymore.

Teenage addiction can also lead people to get depressed and have the same state of mind for a prolonged time. Additionally, drug addiction can affect the health of a teenager or a child much more than the adult. 

Hence, if someone’s suffering from addiction, you can see the following changes in their physical health as well –

  • A sudden change in appetite.
  • Having slurred speech.
  • Alterations in their cognitive ability.
  • A temporary yet prolonged sense of euphoria.
  • Loss of coordinative knowledge.
  • Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia.
  • High blood pressure or hypertension.
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping.

Furthermore, drug abuse can also change the common behavioral aspects of a child, just like their parents. Here’s what you need to know about it.

  • Unable to stop using drugs or consuming alcohol.
  • Difficulty in maintaining personal hygiene.
  • Extreme weight loss or other noticeable changes in their appearance.
  • Increased frequency of risk-taking behaviors or showing impulsiveness.
  • Poor academic or work performance.
  • Having problems in building a relationship.
  • Loss of interest in almost everything, including activities that they enjoyed before.

Although it may still be a social stigma, drug addiction is now being considered a mental ailment. Thus, no matter when you’ve started using drugs, don’t regard it as a degradation of your morality. 

You’re not alone.

Just find someone to converse with and share your problems with them. If you’re not able to make a friend, you can also join a mental health treatment center. They can help you instill a structure in your life and take care of your problems as much as possible.

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Health Condition And Drug Addiction – The Connection

Long-term addiction to drugs can lead to extreme deterioration of our health. For example, it can cause –

  • Nerve stimulants, like methamphetamines or cocaine, can affect your heart and blood vessels massively. It, in turn, can lead to the development of coronary heart disease or arrhythmia. In severe cases, it may also cause heart attacks in teenagers.
  • If you’re inhaling or smoking a drug, it can also lead to chronic respiratory infections and diseases. For example, opioids can slow down a person’s breathing ability and lead to heavy snoring. It may also develop whooping cough in people.
  • Chronic alcohol or drug abuse can affect the cells of your liver and kidney as well. It can sometimes lead to scarring, inflammation of the organ, or liver and kidney failure.
  • Finally, taking multiple or a massive amount of drugs together at once can lead to an overdose. In this case, you may also lose your life due to a cerebral or heart attack.

Reconnecting With Your Child

If you’re a parent suffering from addiction, you should focus on preventing that habit from getting over your head. Try to join a medical detox center if you can. They can help improve your overall lifestyle and offer the best possible solution to get out of your addiction.

Besides taking care of yourself, you’ll have to focus on your child and build up a proper bond with them as well. Here’s how you can work upon it.

  • Aim for mild physical connections, such as sharing a kiss on their cheeks or hugging them whenever they’ve done something right.
  • Talk in a playful tone. There’s no need to be harsh whenever they make a mistake. It’s the perk of being a kid. So, try to teach them through their wrongdoings.
  • Give them time. For example, you can go to the park with them in the evening or opt to watch their favorite movie before bedtime.
  • Even if they’re addicted to drugs, make sure to accept their emotion and offer your support. Don’t let them go through the same state as you did once.
  • Always listen to your child intently, no matter what they have to say. It will help you build up a solid foundation of trust between you two.

While growing up, what a child needs the most is for their parents to be there for them. Hence, even if you’re going through a hard time, try your best to offer your emotional aid to them. It will help them grow up without being dependent on drugs or alcohol.

Final Thoughts

SUDs (substance use disorder) can take a massive toll on your and your loved ones’ life. Fortunately, though, you can still take someone’s help and cure yourself of the curse of addiction. Also, as we’ve said before, it’s not your fault to fall into the trap of substance abuse. It’s the wrongdoing of your surroundings. Thus, you should never feel guilty about what you have done and just focus on recovering from the symptoms of drug addiction

You can do it – we know!

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