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    Substance Abuse Among Children

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    It has become widely accepted by experts in the field that substance abuse disorders are undeniably a “family disease”. This is to say that the addicted individual is not the only person who is affected by the addiction process, but indeed the lives of all of his or her family members as well. Arguably, those whose well-being is negatively impacted the greatest are the addicted person’s children. Not only do substance abuse and dependence affect these children throughout the developing years, but it has been shown that such children possess a much higher risk of experiencing similar problems later on in life (Genetic Science Learning Center, 2014). When considering the very baffling and destructive nature of addiction, it becomes clear as to why so much more needs to be done to help those who are suffering and ensure that their children receive an equal amount of intervention in order to decrease the likelihood of them experiencing an all-too-similar fate.

    Healthy People 2020

    According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (2014), one of the Healthy People Goals Published for the year 2020 is related to decreasing the rate of substance abuse in order to enhance the safety of all individuals, especially children. An unfortunate reality lies in that many individuals do begin experimenting with mood-altering substances during early childhood, and this is of particular concern when considering all of the mental and emotional development that is happening during such a period of one’s life. Naturally, the vast majority of children in this population are living in homes where the parents or caregivers are abusing drugs themselves. Needless to say, a large amount of community intervention is warranted in such situations in order to protect the physical safety and mental stability of the children who are living in environments where such practices are being allowed to take place.

    Fortunately, school-aged children who are abusing substances represent only a very small fraction of the overall drug-addicted population. However, as mentioned previously, the adult addicts of the nation are by no means only affecting themselves and it is in these instances where various community and legal organizations play a pivotal role in intervening in order to protect the welfare of the very young and vulnerable.

    Factors of Influence

    In today’s world, no single community is immune to drug use and manufacturing from making its way into its neighborhoods. The ideas of small towns with only an occasional alcohol-related mishap are a thing of the past. The unfortunate reality is that drugs and the people who are affected by their use occupy all corners of the country. In more recent years in many Midwestern communities, methamphetamine use has reached epidemic proportions and it is in many of these smaller towns where this substance is being manufactured and distributed. When considering that methamphetamine problems represent only a single example of the danger that drugs pose on communities and their children, it should be clear that much is needed to be done in order to limit the effects of substance abuse on the nation and its future leaders.

    Other groups which are quite prevalent in the author’s community include the homeless and Native American populations. These particular groups have long-established histories of addiction affecting all too many of their members and indeed children arguably are the ones who fall victim to the greatest degree. Upsetting as it is, communities have the responsibility of recognizing the warning signs of drug abuse infiltrating a child’s life and acting accordingly.

    Effects of Substance Abuse on Children

    As mentioned previously, drug abuse and addiction can have an overwhelmingly negative impact on all residents of a community, especially children. Only some of the problems that the school-aged child can experience as a direct result of living in an addicted household include possessing a negative self-image, being emotionally labile and unnecessarily fearful, causing problems in school, receiving poor grades, and exhibiting self-harm (National Institutes of Health, 2013).

    Another important point that warrants discussion is the correlation that has been drawn between children living in these conditions and their increased tendency to defy figures of authority. This phenomenon is most likely the result of a child expecting disappointment from their parents and these feelings of unease manifest into distrust for others who should be considered in charges such as law enforcement and school faculty. Other than abusing substances themselves, these children may also commit other crimes such as vandalism, theft, or being involved in assaults. Again, the need for community involvement in such matters should be obvious to anyone.

    On the opposite side of the war on drugs there are many organizations, even in the author’s own community, whose objectives revolve around ensuring the safety of those who are dependent on drug abusers for basic needs. One such organization would be the Children’s Inn. This facility provides food, shelter, and support to both children and mothers who find themselves living in abusive homes. In almost all of these cases, drugs or alcohol play a large role in the toxic situations that these families find themselves in. Another organization with a slightly different agenda would be Al-anon family Group, a sister organization of Alcoholics Anonymous. Historically, Al-anon’s target audience has been the wives of alcoholics, but in more recent years its membership has grown to include almost anybody who’s life has been touched by an addicted loved one. There are even certain groups who work exclusively with school-aged children and adolescents in an effort to help them cope and understand that they are not responsible for their family member’s lifestyle choices.


    Controlling the substance-abusing population will most likely be a battle that is never completely won. With new mood-altering substances being introduced to young people each and every year, it would be unrealistic to expect that drug abuse will simply stop being a problem. However, with continued support and community involvement, the nation can decrease the percentage of children whose daily lives are ravaged by this chronic and baffling disease state.


    1. Genetic Science Learning Center (2014). Genes and addiction. Retrieved from http://learn. National Institutes of Health (2013).
    2. The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: From theory to practice. Retrieved from pmc/articles/ PMC3725219/ United States Department of Health and Human Services (2014).
    3. Healthy people 2020. Retrieved from abuse

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