Did you know that children who are exposed to substance use by their own parents have a higher chance of using themselves? Based on combined 2009 to 2017 NSDUH data, there is an annual average of 8.7 million children aged 17 or younger live in households in the United States with at least one parent who had a substance abuse disorder. Previous research has shown that children of parents with a substance abuse disorder were found to be poor and had difficulties in academic, social, and family functioning when compared to children who were raised by parents who do not suffer from that disorder. These children are more likely to have higher rates of mental and behavioral disorders. Therefore, Children who are exposed to a parent with a substance disorder have a higher chance to develop Substance abuse disorder symptoms themselves. Parents don’t realize that what they do significantly affects their children.
Substance use disorders are a significant public health concern and rank among the most common psychiatric disorders beginning in young adulthood these disorders are highly disabling, frequently co-occur with and even exacerbate other mental and physical health problems, and show a strong familial pattern. For example, in studies of community samples, children of substance abusing parents are more than twice as likely to have an alcohol and/or drug use disorder themselves by young adulthood as compared to their peers. Moreover, children of substance abusing parents are at risk for a wide variety of other negative outcomes, including emotional, social, and behavioral adjustment problems as well as challenges in cognitive and academic functioning. Risk for poor emotional and behavioral outcomes among children living with a parent who has a substance abuse history are reported among those as young as 2 to 3 years of age. The negative impacts of parental substance abuse disorders on the family include a impossible attachment, routines, communication and social life as well as finances. Families who suffer parental substance abuse disorders are characterized by a bad environment such as secrecy, loss, conflict, violence or abuse, emotional chaos and fear.
A parent with a substance abuse disorder who is mood altered and or preoccupied with getting high or spending significant amounts of time recovering from the effects of which ever substance they consumed may miss the opportunities to foster healthy attachments to their children. Consequently, the attachment system that is built on hundreds of thousands of reciprocal and implicit interactions between infant and the adult will be affected. Eye contact, tone, volume and rhythm of voice, soothing touch, and the ability to read the needs of the infant are all intricate building blocks of attachment. Healthy attachment is a psychological immune system of sorts. Just as humans need a physiological immune system to fight off disease and illness, likewise, the relational attachment system provides protection against psychological problems and illness. Without a healthy attachment system with the adult and child, the child is much more vulnerable to stress and therefore more susceptible to having problems with trauma, anxiety, depression, and other mental illness as a child throughout their growing years to adulthood. Attachment theory posits that the quality of the parents’ attachment system that developed in infancy will affect their ability to form healthy attachments to their own children and with other adults.
Clinicians have speculated that what are called “attachment disorders” may occur at elevated rates among children affected by alcohol, in part due to abuse and neglect (when these have happened). Studies indicate that between one third and two thirds of child maltreatment cases involve some degree of substance abuse. The negative consequences of having one or both parents with a SUD ranges from covert damage that is mild and may play out when a child or adolescent is having difficulty establishing trusting relationships with people, to being overly emotionally responsible in relationships and taking on adult roles much younger than developmentally appropriate.
An even more severe impact can begin in utero with maternal substance abuse that causes damage to the growing fetus resulting in birth defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, and/or fetal alcohol effects. These difficulties may cause disabilities that require early intervention and often ongoing and social and mental health services. Social workers can help by encouraging their clients who abuse substances to use precautions to prevent pregnancy and providing education about the risks of maternal drug use on the developing fetus. If a social worker is working with a pregnant client with a SUD, referral to a Perinatal Addiction Clinic and/or high-risk pregnancy OB/GYN clinic is indicated.
A parent with a SUD is 3 times more likely to physically or sexually abuse their child. The sequalae of this is that these children are more likely to be arrested as juveniles, as well as committing a violent crime. Children who have experienced abuse are more likely to have the externalizing disorders such as anger, aggression, conduct, and behavioral problems whereas children who experience neglect are more likely to have internalizing disorders such as depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, poor peer relations.
Fortunately, Children who are exposed to substance abuse early on may not have any future problems as they get older. Some children grow up with no mental or emotional problems and they may not grow up with SUD problems as teenagers or adults. Some children may not have any reciliation of any substance abuse around them as they get older. In a lot of cases children who are in a home with maltreatment from their parents ae due to substance abuse. Many of these children were taken away by child protective services at an early age and grow up with no issues. There are cases where Parents who have a substance abuse disorder may decide they want a change and fight to help themselves to help their children. This can be resolved by social workers and such programs. Parents together with their children can receive therapy, substance abuse prevention and if needed rehabilitation. Making these changes and accepting their problems can help alleviate any stresses they have as a parent, but most importantly children will be raised as they should without any of these problems affecting them in their future.
Social work education and training emphasizes the significant impact the environment has on the individual and vice versa. Involving the family in the treatment of a SUD in an individual is an effective way to help the family and the individual. The utilization of evidence-based family approaches has demonstrated superiority over individual or group-based treatments. Treating the individual without family involvement may limit the effectiveness of treatment for two main reasons: it ignores the devastating impact of SUDs on the parent, family members and most importantly their children and it does not recognize the family as a potential system of support for change. These are many ways that can help prevent a child from having substance abuse problems when they get older. The child can grow up with no mental or emotional problems, best scenario is the child will not follow their parent’s footsteps.
Statistically, children who are exposed to their parents abusing drugs or having an excessive drinking problem does end up manifesting towards the child. Unfortunately, even with help and or change in a family’s daily life 1 out of 10 children will be affected. These children will grow up with mental and or emotional problems as well as substance abuse disorders. The question of are children non acceptable to following their parent’s bad decisions is inevitable. If a child is raised in a home where the parents have substance abuse disorders its extremely apparent that this will affect the child in some way during their child hood to adult hood. Thiers an emotional and physical factor to this hypothesis showing that this can affect a child in many ways. There are children who grow up silent quietly ignoring what they have gone through as a child and keep it stored in the back of their heads. Children’s minds are like sponges they soak up all and any information that they receive as children and carry it on as they get older.
Children of those with substance use disorders are often the silent victims of addiction. Drug use in the home of a young child can take an emotional, psychological, and physical toll on them that changes the course of their future. When someone is dealing with their addiction, they are often too preoccupied with the drug’s hold over them to realize their child may be hurting or taking on many of their burdens. Children can sometimes be put in the position to “become the adult” in a home where drug use is rampant and miss out on key developmental experiences that children should go through. Instead, they are faced with very stressful and damaging experiences in relation to drug use that can stick with them for a lifetime. Another dark side of growing up in a home with rampant drug use is the prevalence of physical and sexual abuse that children are sometimes exposed to. Angry adults in the home can lash out and become verbally, physically, and sometimes sexually abusive to minors, causing both physical, emotional, and psychological scarring that can last a lifetime. Sadly in these cases not only does the Substance abuse affect the child but now they have emotional physical scars. These issues carry on in one’s mind forever especially if they grow up without getting themselves help for their problems.
Social work plays a key part in this paper and relates to the question of does adult substance abuse affect their children. Social workers deal with all kinds of problems that people have such as Mental disorders, drug abuse, sexual abuse, depression and many more. They help adults and children of all ages. If there is a problem a social worker is there to help solve it and fix it. in this case social workers play a huge role in helping individuals and or families who suffer from substance abuse. Social workers supply the help and that extra push to getting clean and helping the family as a whole recover from these harsh predicaments.
In conclusion substance abuse is real and can affect anyone from a young age to adult hood. children are extremely susceptible to these problems and have a significant reaction to parents that they live with while have a substance abuse disorder. Unfortunately, growing up in a home with drug use can be hectic, causing children to miss out on the much-needed structure they need in early life. This can cause many young people to have trouble dealing with outside factors like performing well in school. It’s likely that children that come from troubled homes don’t receive much support from their parents or family and are less likely to be hardworking students. All of which is highly possible when raised in a substance abused home. Children depend on their parents and elders for many things, and their futures often lie in the hands of their caregivers. Improving the lives of children born into families that are impacted by substance use disorders should be a priority. It’s possible to treat children and parents who are around drug use to help the entire family transition into the recovery process. Recovery is a life-long choice, and when there is a child’s life at risk, it can be the best decision for a family to make for the betterment of future generations.