The Effects of Addiction on Children

addiction childrenAddiction is traumatic for children when it is introduced into their lives. Ideally, children would never be exposed to addiction, but this is far from the case. Children all over the world are raised by parents or guardians who struggle with addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, the internet or some other addictive substance or process. The relationships that children have with their addicted parents typically cause psychological damage to the child that, in some cases, never heals. This is a tragedy, but circulating information on the damage that addiction does to children is the only way to raise awareness about it.

Being exposed to addiction makes children feel insecure and afraid. Children have brains like sponges, and though they are innocent, they are very aware. They depend on their parent to have things under control and protect them from the world, and they are able to sense if their parent is unable to do so. Parents who are consumed by addiction are not devoting the time, energy or attention to their child that they should be. The child is aware that their parent is mentally absent and it robs the child of the security they should feel in their parent.

This tends to make the child withdrawn and mistrusting of others, particularly when they are very young because they do not know how to express their feelings to others. They know their parent is dysfunctional and they know that other children do not have this problem. They can sense how they are different and less fortunate but they do not know who they can open up to about it, or even if they should. Anti-social behavior is observed in many children of addicted parents.

As the child grows and matures, they are much more likely than other children to develop addictions and mental disorders of their own. The thought and behavior patterns that children form in their early years are ones they will carry with them for their entire lives. If the foundation of a person’s childhood includes parents who are addicted and therefore less available, the child is likely to develop mental problems of their own as a direct result.

Struggling With Addiction When Pregnant

pregnant addictedAddiction is a big problem for those who have no plans of parenting, but for soon-to-be parents, it is devastating. In a perfect world, impending parenthood would be motivation enough for anyone to recover from their addiction, but this is not the case. Many babies are born to parents who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, food, tobacco or any number of things, and are deeply affected by their parent’s choices. Expecting a baby is a very exciting time in a person’s life, but for someone who is afflicted with addiction or planning to co-parent with someone who is afflicted with addiction, the joy is strained.

Addiction is a type of disease that requires treatment, and letting it go unchecked while raising a child is highly irresponsible. When either parent is still immersed in addiction after the child is born, the child is being exposed to an unhealthy environment. Sadly, it is not uncommon. One in five children is raised by a parent who is addicted for some amount of time. This does not mean that the household will be completely dysfunctional. There are many addicts who raise very functional children, however, this area of the family’s life will always be problematic unless the issue is addressed.

A very tragic form of addiction in parents-to-be is a substance addicted mother who is abusing substances while pregnant. This almost unavoidably causes complications for the unborn baby, either in the form of birth defects, health problems or a dependence on the substance being used. This type of addiction in a parent-to-be is the most dangerous to an unborn fetus, but it is not the only one that poses a threat to the child.

In the case of a substance abusing mother-to-be, an intervention should be held immediately for the sake of the fetus’s health. Bringing a baby into an addicted household is a decision that a parent will regret for the rest of their lives. Children of addicted parents are far more likely to become addicted themselves because of the psychological exposure to addiction as a way of life. If you are addicted and expecting a baby, please do not hesitate to reach out to an addiction treatment professional to learn about the treatment options that are available to you. The best thing an addicted parent-to-be can do is to bring their addiction under control before the baby is born.