How Does Substance Abuse Affect Parenting?

March 10, 2022

It's common knowledge that addiction destroys life. The effects of addiction are felt throughout all aspects of society, including all cultures, social classes, and age groups. When parents get dependent on drugs and alcohol, their physical and mental health, habits, and capacity to parent effectively are negatively affected. One in five children in the United States lives with an alcoholic or drug-dependent parent. Parental substance misuse has a devastating effect on children's health and development; it imparts an implicit grasp of the function that substances play in adulthood.

Parental Drug Use And The Effects On Children

Children who grow up in homes where their parents use drugs frequently have a number of emotional and developmental difficulties. Parental substance abuse and child maltreatment frequently co-occur in homes. Children whose parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol are three times more likely to be abused physically, sexually, or emotionally. Children whose parents are substance abusers are at greater risk, whether as a result of their parents' substance usage or their exposure to other substance abusers. These sorts of maltreatment can have lifelong traumatic consequences that can be severe. These children are also four times more likely to be neglected than their peers from households without substance abuse. When drugs and alcohol take precedence, parents lose sight of their duty and the significance of being physically and emotionally present for their children. 

In these circumstances, parents frequently feel tremendously guilty and humiliated about their substance usage, and these sentiments contribute to further substance abuse in an attempt to conceal their guilt and shame. When paired with the physical features of addiction, this cyclical cycle can keep people trapped. As a result of substance addiction, children learn that their needs are no longer a priority. this has a devastating effect on their mental health. Neglect can have enduring emotional and physiological consequences on children, as well as severe health outcomes. Frequently, children living in households with addicted parents exhibit behavioral and emotional difficulties, such as furious outbursts, melancholy, anxiety, or alienation. 

Children find it difficult to describe their emotions and thoughts; as a result, their conduct is typically the greatest sign of their emotional condition. When children are raised in an atmosphere where neglect is the norm and substance misuse is prioritized, their mental and physical health suffers, as does their capacity to form good relationships with others. Similar children are more prone to replicate these behaviors in their own life, creating an intergenerational issue.

When children are neglected as a result of parental substance addiction, developmental concerns such as speech delays, malnutrition, and cognitive functioning deficits frequently appear. Parental drug use during pregnancy can cause birth abnormalities, bonding issues, and babies with drug effects. These are significant health concerns that can reduce a child's capacity to learn and function and decrease their lifetime. The effects of substance misuse on children are serious and sometimes irreversible. 

Due to the physiologically addictive qualities of drugs and alcohol, parents frequently become increasingly involved with substance use while not intending to become hooked. Substance abuse may quickly lead to addiction. Parents who abuse drugs and alcohol are susceptible to addiction, especially if they have a hereditary predisposition and concurrent mental health disorders.

Parents’ Psychological Health Issues Impacts Kids

Parents with drug use disorder usually suffer from other mental health disorders, and these problems frequently contribute to the maintenance of an addiction. The abuse of substances by parents who take medicine for other ailments is frequently a difficulty. People may question what constitutes parental substance abuse. It is the purposeful use of a drug for emotional escape or separation. Substance abuse can develop, for instance, when a person exceeds the prescribed dosage of a prescription. Whether medicine is designed to alleviate physical pain or mental misery, its abuse occurs when it is used outside the boundaries of prescription. Misuse refers to the consumption of any drug or alcoholic beverage outside the acceptable range of usage. Parents who self-medicate with drugs and alcohol have repercussions that extend beyond their own physical and mental well-being. Addiction, substance abuse, and mental health problems have a lifelong impact on children. Children who are exposed to drugs and alcohol are in danger of accidental consumption, poisoning, and overdose, as well as the possibility of encountering a parent in this tragic circumstance.

Children whose parents suffer from mental health difficulties and addiction are more likely to face sadness, anxiety, and addiction themselves. Abuse victims may feel the effects of trauma, including hypervigilance, flashbacks, and an enhanced startle reaction. Parental mental health and drug usage behaviors have a direct influence on the wellness of their children.

A 2016 study indicated that parental mental health concerns had a substantial influence on toddlers' well-being and led to an increase in behavioral disorders. By fifth grade, fathers with mental health concerns had a lasting effect on their children's social skills in areas such as self-control and collaboration. When parents struggle with mental health disorders and substance abuse, they have limited capacity to attend to their children's needs. A parent's inability to be meaningfully present for their children is impeded by their preoccupation with drug availability and the detrimental effect of mental health difficulties on their energy and mood. Parental satisfaction and reaction to the challenges of parenting also impact the relationship and can have an effect on the mental health of parents and children.

When parents are obsessed with drug and alcohol dependency, their capacity to prioritize the needs of their children decreases. Parents are the most significant aspect of a child's life during childhood; how parents operate has a profound effect on how youngsters think and feel about themselves and the world. Children who grow up in a family where addiction is prevalent rapidly learn that they are not safe and that their parents cannot prioritize them.

If you are a parent who triumphed over beating addiction or substance abuse, it may not be too late to take responsibility for your family. Take time to read our article about the components of parenting.

Annie Archibald has a PhD in Family Studies from York and has taught in universities for decades. Along with her professional career, she also is a mother of five and now a grandmother to two loving boys.

Recent Articles

© 2022 Mothering 21. All Rights Reserved.