Children with Drug Abusing Parents


Childrenwith DrugAbusingParents

Childrenwith Drug Abusing Parents

Drugabuse is the constant use of either illegal drugs or prescription(over the counter medications) for other purposes other than thosethat are intended or recommended. Mainly, people abuse these drugsfor therapeutic purposes, that is, to alter their mood, to affecttheir state of consciousness or body functioning unnecessarily. Theact includes inhaling household and industrial chemicalsintentionally due to their mind-altering effects. The commonly abuseddrugs are alcohol, tobacco, heroin, cocaine, plus marijuana. Most ofthese drugs that areoften abusedare highly addictive, and despite all their negative effects, theirusers continue to have cravings and unquenchable desire to use them.Other adverse effects of drug abuse include organ damage, disturbedbehavior patterns, criminal tendencies that may lead to potentialphysical, psychological and social harm. It is because these abusedsubstances cause some intoxication which alters the user’s sense ofjudgment, attention, perception and physical control.

Depression,hallucinations, and withdrawal symptoms are just a few of the manyother negatives impacts of drug and substance abuse. It would,however, be unfair not to recognize the significant cost that thesociety has to pay as a result of people’s abuse of drugs (Rice,Dunmeyer, Kelman, &amp Miller, 1990). It isclearly depictedby the ever increasing number of patients in hospital wards sufferingfrom drug-related complications. Also, jail cells overflow every daywith lawbreakers who commit crimes under the influence of drugs.Children are also a critical part of this society and aresignificantly affected negatively by drug and substance abuse bytheir parents and guardians. It has, in the recent times, been adisturbing issue that ought to beaddressedas seriously as possible. The write-up outlines how drug abuse amongparents affects their children how they turn out as a result of thatand the maltreatment they go through. It also points out some of theunique needs of these children, child protection and programs thatcan be put in place to reach out to them and also to their parents.

Effectof Parental Drug Abuse on Children

Childrenwho have parents who abuse drugs or alcohol are usually the forgottenvictims. Inadequate parental care, unpredictable behaviors and nostructural attachment to the home life are often the consequences ofparental substance abuse. For the sibling, this can be painful, scaryand translates to numerous problems later in life of these children(Alcohol Rehab, 2016). A good number of these siblings areexposedto abuse, violence at home, and financial problems in addition topoor feeding habits leading to malnourishment at their tender age inlife. All these, are results of parents beingaddictedto alcohol or drugs.

Childrenarealso exposedto homelessness, divorce, separation and even abandonment. They maybe orphans as a result of their parents dying or beingincarcerateddue to their habit of substance abuse alongside with its problems andeffects. The concerns here can have a very long-lasting adverseeffect on the development of the child and his future choices inlife. The children may also turn to drug abuse or drinking of alcoholas the way to cope with what the parents have made them go through.Others may have the feeling that they are all destined to substanceabuse as a way of life.

Childrenarenot giventhe necessary parental guidelines, such as, how to brush teethproperly, table manners, grooming appropriately and even how to keepfriends plus making new ones. They, instead, will find themselveslearning how to hoard food when it is not enough, these children findthemselves in constant violation of the law, and they distrust theauthorities since they have never appreciated the role of leadershipin their lives. The elder siblings may find themselves taking theresponsibilities of their parents in guarding and parenting theyounger ones, something that affects the growth and development.

ProblemBehaviors in Children of Substance-abusing Parents

Whena parent or guardian is an alcoholic or abuses drugs of other forms,the child’s behavior tends to be affected a lot.These effects manifest themselves in various ways. For example, sucha child`s healthy development will be interrupted. Emotionally,mentally and even physically, such a child will probably be unstable.Such children experience severe low self-esteem. They hate and mayblame themselves for the situation. They feel responsible for theirparents` drug addiction and behavior. They may think that theirparents abuse drugs to escape a lot of responsibility, financialconstraints and other inconvenience that are brought about by havingchildren. This guilt may drive them to put too much focus on theirstudies so as to get good grades or to strive too much to be peacefuland do all their chores perfectly to avoid upsetting their parents.Such children are always in constant fear of what their parents mightdo.

Theyeven avoid bringing home their friends because they do not know howtheir parents would treat them. For this reason, many of them becomewithdrawn from both their peers and especially from their parents soas not to agitate them. Mostof the time, the children become very lonelyand maybe have suicidal thoughts as they do not feel loved orappreciated. Sometimes, they may even fear that they will turn outlike their parents. They harbor deep resentment towards them and maynever recognize the family as an institution. Some experienceanxiety, eating disorders or depression. They worry a lot about theirparents, their health and think that drugs might kill them. They lackrole models in their parents and so end up looking up to theirfriends or other people. They are ashamed of their parents, theirfamilies, and their lives.

Childrenof drug abusers also tend to mature too quickly for their age. Evenat a very tender age, you may find a child who is extremelyresponsible and performs tasks that they are too young.They are forced to do that because their parents are not available todo them. They miss enjoying a proper childhood, an essential part oflife. These children are also very mistrustful to everyone. Theythink that everyone is going to hurt them like their parents. Theaspects condemnthem to asadlife and more often than not, such children end up being exactlybeing like their parents or being vulnerable enough to bere-victimized in the future.

ParentViolence and Maltreatment towards Children Due to Drug Abuse

Parentaldrug and substance abuse are major factors contributing to childneglect and abuse according to “|Child Welfare League of America”(CWLA). Often people that abuse alcohol and other drugs have beenknown to be violent. They feel angry at themselves, anyone oranything and guilty for abusing drugs, so they end up losing theirself-control and lay out their frustrations through violence. Most ofthe time, the victims of this violence are their spouses or children.However, children are the ones that suffer the most because they areyoung and cannot handle it. Some of the most common forms of violenceinclude physical abuse in the form of beatings or sexual abuse i.e.rape and assault. These children are often too young to defendthemselves, so the violence goes on and on. They also do not haveanywhere to go so they cannot leave their homes. They, therefore,endure everything in silence, and this is also because they cannotreport their parents due to threats or fear of what might happen tothem. Itsometimesbecomes so sadthat these children are subjected to conditions like the“post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” just like war victimsbeside terror attacks (Alcohol Violence, 2003)

Furthermore,children of alcoholics and substance abusers areoften maltreated.Their alcoholic parents totally neglect them, and so they have togrow up without parental care and guidance. They leave them a lot ofresponsibilities that they cannot appropriately handle. They spendmost of their money on satisfying their addiction, leaving little tocater to their children`s needs. Itis harmfulto the children`s health, development, survival, and dignity.Unfortunately, many countries do not have appropriate systems toreport and record cases of child maltreatment, and in those that havethem, many cases remain unreported.

Understandingthe varied Needs of family with Parents who constantly Abuse Drugs

Accordingto findings by the CWLA, more than eight million children live withdrug and substance abusing parents. Substance abuse exists in aboutforty to eighty percent of families whereby children are usuallyvictims of ill-treatment.Such kind ofchildrenismore than four times likely to suffer neglect and three times morelikely to undergo damage than their counterparts from non-drugabusing families (Parental Substance Abuse A Major Factor, 1998-2016)In light of these issues, these children have more needs than theirpeers. They suffer withdrawal, anxiety, depression and self-esteemmatters that call for guidance and counseling services. Sometimestheir parents cannot provide them with basic needs such as food,shelter, and education. These special needs ought to be identifiedand addressed so that these children can also get a chance to livehealthy lives (M Solis, et al., 2012)

OutreachPrograms for Children and Parents

Studiesindicate that services aimed at enhancing access to treatment andprovision of a range of social services for children and their drugabusing parents are critical for effective treatment of substanceabuse and addiction (Jeanne et al., 2000). Children look up to theirparents, and when they are drug abusers, they get disappointed andmay end up also abusing drugs and other substances. Itwould be ideal for them to seekhelp but most of them are ashamed and therefore reluctant to sharesuch personal issues (Barnard &amp McKeganey, 2004)

Luckily,some programs offer support to such children for example Alateen, ateenager-based program. Members of this program come together toshare their experiences and difficulties. They aim at encouragingand giving hope to each other and to learnways to cope with their problems. Such discussions are free andconfidential. The “National Suicide Prevention Lifeline” at“1-800-273-TALK (8255)” is also a private and confidentialprogram that has counselors that help with family problems, substanceabuse, and suicide prevention.


TheFederal Government has a significant role inthe protection of children affected by drug and substance abuse. Ithadplayed this role since 1974 when the “Child Abuse Prevention andTreatment Act” weresignedinto law. In the year 1977, the “National Centre on Child Abuse,”a user manual series helped to guide professionals involved in thechild protection system. They include their roles andresponsibilities such as identification problems these kids face,treatment of abuse and neglect and even prevention of thesechallenges (Vickie, 1994).

Thefoster care system has also been a very helpful program for theprotection of these children victimized by their parents` negligentbehavior due to drug abuse. Many times, they do not have stablehomes. For fear of violence or lack of basic needs, they end uprunning away from their homes and finally in the streets. However,foster care has proved to be a better option for them because therethey can be treated better, educated and imparted values to propelthem to be useful members of the society. Studies have shown thatchildren with drug-abusing parents do not get enough and suitabletreatment. They have a high probability of remaining in the fostercare system longer as well as may re-enter the system later on.


Summingup the issues mentioned above, it is clear that drug and substanceabuse has a lot of negative impacts on the whole society especiallychildren. Children are young and vulnerable, and if not given theproper help, they may suffer badly. They lose confidence inthemselves, blame themselves, become confused, ashamed and mistrustpeople around them. The move deprives them of the chance to have ahealthy and normal childhood. Various individuals, organizations andthe government have identified these problems and put considerableeffort to understand their needs. Programs to reach out to childrenand their drug-abusing parents have been established to try and helpthem. Child protection has also become a priority for the governmentand organizations such as the UN. All these steps have beentakenin a bid to correct the situation and secure a better future forthese children.


AlcoholRehab. (2016). Retrieved October 22, 2016, from Effect of SubstanceAbuse on Children:

Barnard,M., &amp McKeganey, N. (2004). The impact of parental problem druguseson children: what is the problem and what can be done to help.Addiction, 99(5), 552-559.

CircleSolutions, Inc., M Solis, J., M Shadur, J., R Burns, A., &amp MHussong, A. (2012). Understanding the diverse needs of children whoseparent’s abuse substances. Current drug abuse reviews, 5(2),135-147.

Rice,D. P., Dunmeyer, S., Kelman, S., &amp Miller, L. S. (1990). Theeconomic costs of alcohol and drug abuse and mental illness: 1985.Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.

VickieKropenske, J. H. (1994). ProtectingChildren in substance-abusing families.Circle Solutions, Inc.,