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Children of Addicted Parents
Children of Addicted Parents
Children of addicted parents face a unique set of hardships which can start even before they are born and last their whole lives. In addition for having a higher risk of developing drug and alcohol addiction themselves, the children’s normal development is interrupted. This puts children of addicted parents at higher risk for physical, emotional, and mental health problems.
Children of Addicted Parents: Before Birth
Children of addicted parents who are exposed to drugs and alcohol before birth face a host of difficulties. Kids can have behavioral and developmental problems that last the rest of their lives. Children of addicted parents who are exposed to drugs and alcohol prenatally also can become dependent and undergo serious and sometimes life threatening withdrawal symptoms once they are born. Drug exposure before birth can also disrupt a baby’s brain development.
Children of Addicted Parents: Behavioral Problems
Children of addicted parents also tend to have unstable home lives. Their parents are more often involved in divorce, unemployment, domestic violence, and legal parents. These issues can severely affect their ability to be effective parents. As a result, children of addicted parents have a higher incidence of eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts than the general population. Children of addicted parents are also more likely to have lower self-esteem and have problems in school.
Children of Addicted Parents: Emotional Consequences
Children of addicted parents are more likely to suffer depression than other children. They are also more prone to suffer from anxiety. This is because those children of addicted parents rarely feel safe in their own homes. They worry about themselves and their parents often. Children of addicted parents may even suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which can affect their sleep and cause them to have flashbacks. They also worry about bringing other people home for fear that their parents will behave badly. This can inhibit them from forming solid friendships. Children of addicted parents likewise suffer from the stigma associated with addiction, being shunned by peers and other adults in the community who know they come from a troubled family. Some children of addicted parents blame themselves for their parents drug abuse, causing them to suffer from feelings of guilt and to “walk on eggshells” around an addicted parent to avoid setting them off.
Children of Addicted Parents: What can help?
Children of addicted parents are more successful if they are able to develop friendships. These friendships can provide a support system and act as a buffer to their situation. Children of addicted parents also tend to do better if they are able to participate in extracurricular activities that boost their self-esteem. If one parent is not addicted, this can also help; providing some stability in the home. Alateen is an organization for teenagers of parents with drug and alcohol problems. This is a support group, much like the adult version Al-anon, and it can be very helpful for children of addicted parents. Other strong role models like relatives, teachers, and counselors can be beneficial as well.