One fact that many people who struggle with drug addiction fail to realize is that their actions affect everyone around them, particularly children. A primary characteristic of substance abuse is that drugs or alcohol become the most important thing in the addict’s life, which can be detrimental to the care and nurturing of a child. Drug addiction among parents is becoming more common, and its effect on the family can be far-reaching and devastating.

How Common is Parental Substance Abuse?

Children dealing with parental drug addiction is a serious issue in this country. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, approximately 12 percent of children in the U.S. have a parent who abuses alcohol or drugs or who has a substance use disorder. Additionally, 8.3 million minor children live with at least one parent who abuses substances or is substance dependent.

Substance abuse puts babies at risk as well. Over 400,000 infants are born each year that were exposed to addictive substances prenatally. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that pregnant women ages 15 to 44 use illicit drugs at a rate of 5.9 percent, and 8.5 percent of these women report current alcohol use.

The Impact that Drug Addiction Can Have on Children

Just because a person is abusing drugs or alcohol, it does not necessarily mean that he or she is a bad parent, but this is not an ideal situation. In fact, the risks of physical and emotional harm increase exponentially when there is a parent that abuses drugs or alcohol.

There is also an unfortunate relationship between child abuse and addiction. A Harvard University Study published in Pediatrics concluded that children whose parents misuse alcohol or abuse drugs are three times more likely to suffer from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse than their peers. The study also points out that these children are more likely to experience educational and developmental delays as well as behavioral and mental health problems later in life.

Parents may believe that they are “present” for their children, but drug and alcohol abuse makes this virtually impossible. When a parent misuses alcohol, marijuana, or opioids, they are more likely to forget to attend to their parental responsibilities and may expose their children to unsafe or dangerous situations. Drugs and alcohol affect the body’s nervous system and emotions, which makes being an effective parent and role model a difficult task.

Where Can Parents Turn for Help With Drug Addiction?

Few parents plan to do anything that will harm their children. Alcoholism and drug addiction are a disease, and you will need to get help at a reputable drug rehab center to begin recovery. It can be difficult to admit that there is a problem when you have responsibilities and children at home, but addiction is something that only gets worse with time, never better.

At The Recovery Village, our comprehensive drug rehab programs will allow you to get the specialized help you need to finally break free from addictive substances. We offer supervised detox services as well as inpatient and outpatient care, depending on your needs. Contact us now to learn about how you can take the first step toward recovery and be the parent of your children that you were meant to be.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.