Substance abuse in the home impacts more than just the people using drugs or alcohol. When children are involved, the effects can be far-reaching and devastating. According to a new government report released last month, the number of children in this country’s foster care system has risen for the fourth consecutive year. One of the largest reasons for this uptick is substance abuse by parents.

Parental Substance Abuse a Factor in Rising Foster Care Rates

Here is yet another statistic that demonstrated that America is currently losing the ongoing war on drugs. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families’ annual report, 40 percent of children are placed in the foster care system because of a parent’s abuse of drugs or alcohol.

In 36 percent of cases, a parent’s drug addiction was cited as the reason for a child’s removal from the home, and in 4 percent of cases, it was alcohol abuse. The states with the largest one-year increases in foster care populations were Georgia, Indiana, and West Virginia, which are all among states that are struggling with addiction issues. The ability of each state to handle the rising demand on its foster care system varies, which can place even more undue stress on children and their families.

The Impact of Substance Abuse in the Home

No parent believes that his or her substance use will lead to an overdose situation in front of the children, but these tragedies have been increasing in number. According to the CDC, 91 people die each day in this country from opioid-related overdoses. The United States Children’s Bureau estimates that about 12 percent of children in the US are living with parents who have a substance use disorder.

Prenatal exposure to drugs is one common issue when mothers use drugs during pregnancy. This has been linked to premature births, low birth weight, and physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems. When a parent uses drugs or alcohol to excess, he or she is unable to physically and emotionally care for children. A parent’s substance use disorder can impact parenting skills in several ways including:

  • Parents may have difficulty managing their emotions, such as anger.
  • Parents often put drugs and alcohol ahead of a child’s needs.
  • There may be an absence of a healthy parent-child relationship.
  • Financial and legal trouble affects an adult’s parenting ability.

Where Parents With Substance Abuse Issues Can Find Help

When children are removed from homes in which drug abuse occurs, it is generally for their protection. A child’s basic needs and welfare must come first, which are rarely priorities when a parent has an addiction issue. Even in homes where children are not mistreated, children with addicted parents have a greater chance of turning to drugs and alcohol themselves.

The good news is that many parents are able to reunite with their children by seeking help in a reputable substance abuse treatment program. Both drug and family courts are coming together in many areas to address drug addiction among parents by encouraging a comprehensive rehab program followed by aftercare and support. The Recovery Village offers individualized addiction treatment programs with support for family and loved ones. Contact us now to speak with of our addiction experts about how our compassionate services can help you break the chains of addiction.

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.