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Addiction is a devastating disease that never truly affects a person in a vacuum. Rather, it affects entire families, from spouses to children, with children being uniquely susceptible to its devastating effects. About one in eight children across the country live in a household with at least one parent with a substance use disorder (SUD,) and addressing its consequences is critical.

In addition to the physical and emotional ramifications of drug and alcohol use for those engaging with these substances, children also experience many of their own traumas and prolonged effects of addiction as a result of growing up in a space affected by addiction. Understanding the effects of addiction on children is necessary to begin healing from the effects of addiction and repairing these important relationships for a healthy, sober future.

Addiction and Parenting

The use of drugs and alcohol has an intense effect on a person’s physical and mental well-being, bringing feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, and much more. However, these effects also affect a person’s ability to parent.

Children in households with at least one parent who engages in the dangerous use of drugs or alcohol experience a unique upbringing. Parental figures may begin to eschew these important relationships and attention and adopt a more isolated lifestyle as a result of addiction, compromising a child’s need for parental bonds. Addiction also makes consistency in parenting incredibly difficult.

Parents unable to manage their emotional state can lead to inconsistent parenting, even developing disproportionate consequences or reactions while parenting due to a compromised emotional state. Pervasive feelings of anger or anxiety can lead to unfair parenting styles; experiencing outbursts can further deteriorate these relationships. Children may not only be more reserved in their development but also be less willing to reach out to parents for guidance, questions, or other needs due to the consequences of substance use, leading to gaps in their development.

Stunted Development

Children with at least one parent with SUD can also experience their own varied stunted development. This can commonly refer to emotional development, as children may not be readily able to understand and process their own emotional states.

A pervasive, volatile home atmosphere can affect a child’s ability to process their own emotions, from their personal feelings of anxiety and anger and more. Others may experience the compromised development of personal and social skills, with children having less access to social outlets or being unable to navigate social environments in a safe and comfortable manner.

Children never have to be actively engaged with addictive substances to experience their effects, and the use of drugs or alcohol has direct consequences on entire families and households.

The Continued Emotional Impact of Addiction on Children

Children living in environments with at least one parent with SUD may continue to feel the adverse effects of such a situation for a prolonged period of time. Traumatic experiences and influences during their developmental years can greatly impact a child’s mental health, perspectives, worldview, and attitudes, even moving into their teenage years and adulthood.

Increased feelings of their own anxiety, depression, isolation, guilt, and much more are common among children. Some children may also blame themselves for a parent’s use of addictive substances, furthering these emotional challenges during a child’s developmental years and beyond.

Others may express an increase in risk-taking behavior in an attempt to garner the attention that may have been denied or insufficient as a result of a parent’s use of drugs or alcohol. However, a parent’s use of these substances can also leave a lasting impression on their use, with drugs or alcohol being normalized from a young age. Children may either not recognize the truly destructive effects of substances or be exposed to their use very early in life and impacting their own development of addiction.

These impacts can also continue to affect children even if a parent’s use of drugs or alcohol changes. Ceasing the use of these addictive substances is crucial, but making an active effort to equally address its effects on children is necessary for a truly effective and transformative recovery.

Pursuing Treatment

Professional treatment for overcoming addiction is essential. Recovery is not just learning to avoid the use of drugs or alcohol but also processing and addressing the consequences of a person’s use, with the effects of addiction on children being a particularly poignant part of the journey. Not only must parents cease their use of addictive substances, but they also must address the lingering effects of their use and how it has affected the development of their child.

Redpoint’s outpatient programs are designed to take a personalized approach to recovery, instilling the necessary skills to stave off urges and cravings while developing the skills to reconnect with children, address their experiences, and rebuild these relationships. It is common for children to continue to harbor resentments or lingering traumas, and healing in these relationships takes time, effort, and honesty.

From developing communication strategies, embracing new lifestyle changes in accordance with sober ambitions, and tackling the attitudes and use of substances commonplace in children through professional teen programs and more, Redpoint’s approach to recovery as a familial endeavor is necessary to tackle the effects of addiction on children to create a healthy and sober future.

Addiction has lasting and profound impacts both on those engaging with addictive substances and those closest to them. Understanding the effects of addiction on your children is necessary to understand both the necessary steps through the healing process and the need for professional support during this time. At Redpoint, we champion familial healing, addressing not just the direct use of drugs or alcohol but their lasting impacts on each person’s mental and physical health to create a comprehensive and unified approach to a sober future. For more Infomation on how we can help you, your family, and your children overcome the effects of addiction, call to speak to us today at (303) 710-8496.

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The Redpoint Center
1831 Lefthand Cir, Suite H
Longmont, CO 80501

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