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Help for a child with drug addicted parents

It’s estimated that 25 percent of young people under the age of 18 are exposed to alcohol abuse or dependence in the family. Research shows that if you are a child with drug addicted parents you are more likely to develop depression or anxiety in adolescence and use alcohol or other drugs in later life. The impact of parental drug and alcohol abuse on a child can lead to lifelong problems if the child or teen doesn’t get the right help and support. Read on to find out where and how to get help for a child with drug addicted parents.

Parents using drugs and effects on children

In families where alcohol or other drugs are being abused, the behaviour of the parent or parents is frequently unpredictable and communication is unclear. Family life is often characterised by chaos and unpredictability. Behaviour from parents can range from loving to withdrawn to crazy. Structure and rules may be either non-existent or inconsistent. Children, who may not understand that their parent’s behaviour and mood is determined by the amount of drugs in their bloodstream, can feel confused and insecure. They love their parents and worry about them, but also feel angry and hurt that their parents do not love them enough to stop using.

Despite the suffering these children and young people endure, many blame themselves for their parent’s substance abuse. Some children try to control the drinking or drug use by doing well at school, or keeping the house tidy, or getting along perfectly with their siblings so as not to trigger an outburst or scene. Others withdraw, hoping that by not creating any disturbance, there will be less chance of the parent or parents that being prompted to take drug. Few realise that they themselves cannot cause a parent to drink or use drugs, nor can they cure a parent’s substance problem.

 Remember: it’s not your fault

 Having a parent who is addicted to drugs is never the fault of the child. The best way for a person to understand addiction and to cope with a parent who is using drugs is through “the Three C’s”:

  1. You didn’t CAUSE the drug addiction

Children can sometimes internalise the actions of their parents and believe they are to blame. However, their parents’ addictions have other roots, and “better behaviour” or doing something in a different way in the past would not have changed this.

  1. You can’t CONTROL the behaviour of your parent

The parent or parents must decide to stop using drugs themselves and get help. A parent’s behaviours and actions will often be influenced by their drug use, which can result in negative consequences.

  1. You as their child cannot CURE your parent’s drug addiction

Addiction treatment programs and alternative treatments can assist a parent or loved one with treatment options to address their addiction. But it is NEVER the child’s responsibility to provide treatment. Making a full recovery requires the help of addiction professionals.

Drug addiction and alcoholism tends to run in families, and the children of addicted parents can be at a higher risk for addiction than children whose parents are not addicted. The use of substances by parents and adolescent children also tends to be strongly related. In general, if the parents take drugs, their children have a higher likelihood of taking drugs as well.

Breaking the cycle

As we looking in more detail at how the impact of parental drug and alcohol abuse on a child, we can conclude that the most important focus of this issue is to break the cycle of substance abuse among children and young people. We know that many young people have entered into drug and/or alcohol addiction, largely due to their exposure to such activities as a young child. However, this cycle can be taken apart and the course of their young lives can be changed by

Supporting local children and family centres
These groups offer a safe environment and supportive care to children when parents are unable to.

 Demand drug education in all schools
Although we know drug prevention begins in the home, having preventative education at a young age continues to be an effective way to keep young people away from drugs.

 If your parent or someone in your family is dealing with drug or alcohol addiction then please get in touch with Port of Call, drug rehab specialists. We can advise on a number of the support options available, so that you can get the help you need. Speak to one of our advisers for free today on 08000029010.

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin is our Founder and Chief Executive. Martin is himself in long term recovery and started Port of Call to help families navigate treatment options. In 2020 Martin will open Delamere Health Ltd, the UK’s first purpose built addiction treatment clinic.

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