Addiction doesn’t only affect the person struggling with the addiction. Family members, especially children, can get caught in the crossfire. Not only can children be neglected, but they can miss out on essential health checkups and other milestones because of financial restraints caused by their parent’s addiction.
For instance, even if a parent can manage to get cheap insurance for convicted drivers with a history of driving while intoxicated, they may not keep up with their premium because any income is used to maintain their addiction.
So without the insurance, parents avoid driving their children to appointments — and if they do drive them, they risk having their car towed for lack of insurance. Either way, the child gets the short end of the stick.
This article will discuss short- and long-term repercussions on children who have parents with addiction issues, including how it affects them mentally, physically, and emotionally.
The Mental Effects of Addiction on Children
Adolescents with addicted parents may face a variety of issues. Addiction causes confusion, miscommunication, and insecurity in families. Low-income family life affects children’s school performance. They are unlikely to strive to earn excellent scores if no one supports their efforts.
Children from low-income families are more likely to fail courses, be absent, or be expelled. If the mother smokes during pregnancy, her children may suffer in school due to mental issues.
Because their parents’ actions have no consequences, children may assume there is no need to follow authority. Or they may act out to attract attention, good or bad. Having few rules and little supervision at home makes children more likely to participate in risky or illegal behaviors.
Children reared by parents with drug abuse issues are also more prone to develop their own issues. They might feel it is appropriate to use drugs and alcohol to deal with stress and problems.
Or, if they don’t use drugs, they’re more likely to date or marry an addict. Their sense of self-worth and power has been distorted, leading them down a road of abuse and exploitation.
The Physical Toll of Addiction on Children
Parental addiction has a physical strain on children even before delivery. Because of the stigmas linked to drug dependency, many pregnant women avoid seeking sufficient prenatal care, putting their infants at risk.
Parents with addictions may not make an effort to take proper care of their children and domestic violence may be involved. Children won’t be taken to the doctor when they’re sick, and the money will be spent on drugs or alcohol instead of the essential eye and dental treatment.
Stress-related disorders, including ulcers, asthma, and migraines, may cause anxiety-based ailments in children. If left untreated, they may become life-threatening.
Consumption of alcohol or drug use by the mother during pregnancy may cause severe physical and mental health problems in the unborn child, such as growth retardation and organ deformity.
Intoxicated parents might lack morals and cross the line between what is appropriate and what is not. So anger or agitation under the influence might lead to verbal, physical, or sexual abuse.
When children are trapped in a cyclone of abuse, they suffer emotional and potentially bodily trauma. Many of these children have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after seeing or experiencing violence against others.
A chaotic, unsupportive household may leave children feeling unwanted and inconsequential. This, along with usage, may lead to bad sentiments and sadness. Depression may lead to physical behaviors like self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
The Emotional Cost of Addiction on Children
The emotional needs of children are often disregarded when parents are preoccupied with their demands. Emotional neglect might cause difficulties with trust issues, social isolation, and guilt towards their parents.
Emotional development has a detrimental influence from birth. Parents and children must bond to feel connected. If one or both parents are high, their view is distorted, and they can’t adequately care for their kids.
Babies cry to communicate. But if the parent doesn’t respond, the newborn will cease expressing them, and this pattern will continue until childhood. This lack of attention will cause trust and dependence difficulties in the youngster.
Children in this environment may be depressed owing to a lack of affection at home. The absence of stability, regularity, security, and caring in their home environment typically results in emotional stunting.
As children get older, they may begin to feel responsible for their parents’ abuse or blamed for their own. This role reversal is unpleasant and may induce anxiety in adolescents who feel accountable for the family. A DUI that causes you to be a high-risk driver can add to a child’s sense of emotional responsibility.
Although there are programs for parents who are struggling with addiction, they are designed to assist the addict, not the person living with them.
Health and social professionals must be able to detect when children are at risk of physical or mental harm. If they can detect it, they can connect them with needed services — but this doesn’t always happen.
Imani Francies writes and researches for the car insurance site, CarInsuranceComparison.com. As someone who is working to foster children in the future, she frequently explores and stays up-to-date on different struggles that children in the foster system go through.