Last Updated: November 10, 2022
No one plans for every possible contingency in life. Though you may plan for a family, you probably do not include the possibility of addiction in those dreams.
Unfortunately, however, the sad fact is that addiction has a huge impact on many families, especially vulnerable children. It is estimated that one in five US children grows up in a household in which someone misuses alcohol or has a substance use disorder.
The Negative Impact Parental Addiction Has on Children
Addiction does not impact kids in just one way. Rather, the impact is emotional, physical, and mental.
The emotional impact of addiction on children can start early, even from birth, because the addiction can get in the way of parental and child bonding. If the parent is under the influence of a substance, he or she will not be picking up on cues to provide what the baby needs or may fail to pay the baby much-needed attention. The baby will stop trying and this pattern may follow into childhood and adolescence.
Depression is common among children with parents who have addiction issues, as are trust issues and a lack of empathy or remorse. These can all lead to serious problems as children get older, including problems with the law and school.
Kids with addicted parents often feel pressured to be the “adult” in the relationship, which leads to anxiety and stress as they try to cope with a situation for which they are ill-equipped.
Because of a lack of structure and routine, kids with addicted parents often do not do as well in school and may find themselves with addiction problems or other mental health problems of their own. They may exhibit attention-seeking behaviors, whether of an aggressive or sexual nature. What they are getting at home, they will seek out elsewhere, often in a negative way.
Such children often struggle in school because they do not have support or routine in their home life. They may not have supplies or a place to do homework. Their parents may not show interest in their work, so the children fail to see its importance and eventually may give up trying.
The physical impact on children with addicted parents can start even before the child is born. If a mother is using while she is pregnant, the baby can be born with issues including stunted growth, physical disabilities, or mental disorders such as attachment or attention issues.
Also, because a parent may be unwilling or unable to take their children to a doctor, kids of addicted parents are often more vulnerable to serious illnesses that result from a general lack of good care. Abuse can also occur from addiction. Parents under the influence are more prone to abuse their children, whether physically, verbally or sexually.
Though it may be hard to admit an addiction problem, it is even harder to give your children what they need when you are addicted. Addiction affects your children in harmful ways, leading to emotional, physical, and mental issues.
If you are a parent struggling with addiction disorder, please do not wait. Get the help and support you need today by contacting us. We offer treatment options to meet every need, including family therapy and individualized treatment plans to help you break free from addiction and become the person and parent you want to be.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.