Addiction does not just affect the person suffering from a substance use disorder (SUD). Instead, addiction impacts those around us, including our spouses, partners, parents, friends, and children. Unfortunately, the effects of addiction on children can be long-term and have far-reaching consequences on their mental and physical health and well-being.
How Many Children Are Exposed to SUDs?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, one in eight children lives with at least one parent with a substance use disorder. In addition, one in thirty-five children lived in a household where at least one parent has a drug use disorder. Furthermore, one in ten children lives in homes where at least one parent has an alcohol use disorder.
In two-parent homes, the research discovered that around 6.1 million children lived in homes with at least one parent suffering from alcohol use disorder. Also, 2.1 million children lived in homes with at least one parent suffering from drug use disorder.
Among single-parent homes, 1.4 million children were raised by a parent with an alcohol use disorder. Additionally, about 540,000 children were in homes where the parent had a drug use disorder.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Addiction on Children?
Addiction impacts children differently depending on their family dynamic, the number of siblings, and support from friends and adults outside the some, such as teachers. It also depends on whether they see their parents drinking excessively or using drugs in front of them. Regardless, it is crucial to understand the effects of addiction on children.
Increased Risk of Abuse
In households where at least one parent has a SUD, they are three times more likely to physically or sexually abuse their children, as reported by the National Institutes of Health. The research also concluded that when a parent with SUD physically or sexually abuses a child, approximately 50 percent will commit some type of crime and be arrested while a juvenile.
Furthermore, about 40 percent of these children are likely to commit a violent crime, such as physical assault or sexual assault.
Physical and Mental Effects
Physical and mental effects can begin when the child is still in the uterus and not yet born. Women who drink and use drugs while pregnant risk having children with development issues, congenital disabilities, and other long-term mental health concerns.
Other effects children can experience include:
- Anxiety disorder
- Dental problems
- Hygiene problems
- Self-Destructive behaviors
- Violence and anger issues
- Increased risk-taking
- Developmental issues
Many children experience the emotional effects of addiction as well. They can have attachment and relationship problems at home and when attempting to form friendships and relationships with their peers. This is in part to what they believe is normal behavior based on their own at-home experiences.
For example, they can believe that physical or sexual assault is normal and how your show affection towards another. Furthermore, they can have issues expressing their emotions and not fully understanding their feelings. For instance, they may lack empathy towards others because they do not understand this feeling.
The behavioral effects of addiction on children can cause them to have to take on adult roles and responsibilities. For example, tweens and teens will often have to take on the role of being the primary caregiver for younger siblings. They may also have to pay bills, shop for groceries, do laundry, prepare meals, and manage the home.
Conversely, tweens and teens may turn to substances to deal with the added stress and anxiety of living in a home where addiction is present. As a result, they could develop a substance use disorder themselves.
Younger children can act out negatively, such as throwing temper tantrums. This is their way of letting others know they require attention, even if it means getting in trouble.
What Can Be Done to Help Children?
In recent years, child welfare services have become more involved with removing children from homes where SUDs are present. In 2000, only 18.5 percent of children were removed from their homes. However, as more has been learned about the effects of addiction on children, this number has grown to 38.9 percent as of 2019, according to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare.
There have also been efforts to raise awareness about child safety. For example, the entire month of November is Child Safety and Protection Month. Throughout the month, parents and those concerned about the welfare of children can access a wide range of resources and topics ranging from making the home child-friendly to how to help children in homes where they are neglected and abused.
Furthermore, there are more resources for children to get help, including teachers, drug rehab centers, coaches, school counselors, religious leaders, and various SUD support organizations like Alateen.
Parents can also take an active role by seeking help for their addiction. Part of their addiction recovery treatment needs to include dedicated treatment for the entire family, such as family counseling and individual counseling for children.
Detox and Addiction Treatment for Families in Murfreesboro, TN
Tulip Hill in Murfreesboro, TN, provides detox and addiction treatment for families where one or both parents struggle with substance misuse. Our family programs can be personalized to fit your family’s specific needs to help start the healing process and recovery. For further information or to start detox and treatment today, contact us today.