The Effects of Drug Abuse on Children of Substance Abusers

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Millions of children in the U.S. are affected by a parent with a substance abuse disorder. According to the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 8.3 million children live with at least one parent who abused or was dependent on alcohol or an illicit drug during the past year, as reported on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

The age breakdown is as follows:

• 13.9 percent of these children are aged 2years or younger
• 13.6 percent are aged 3 to 5 years
• 12.0 percent are aged 6 to 11 years
• 9.9 percent of youths are aged 12 to 17 years

Children of substance abusers are at increased risk for abuse or neglect as well academic, social and emotional problems. Having a responsible, caring parent and a stable environment is essential for proper development. Chaos and unpredictability often plague home environments where one or both parent abuses drugs or alcohol. Sadly, children are deeply affected by this kind of instability and the trauma can persist well into adulthood.

In addition to a difficult home environment, children whose mothers abused substances during pregnancy may also struggle with developmental issues. Children and youth who have been affected by fetal alcohol effects, for example, often have difficulty learning social skills and have issues meeting academic standards.

It is essential that parents get help for a substance abuse disorder—no parent can reasonably meet a child’s needs fully when abusing drugs or alcohol.

Northbound Treatment Services offers comprehensive chemical dependency treatment services at its rehab treatment center and understands the needs of children affected by substance abuse. Northbound offers a special program called BIS Kids for children aged 6-13. The program aims to help children learn coping skills and process their feelings, and the program is free and offered quarterly. For more information, visit our website.

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