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How Learned Behaviors Could Pass Your Substance Abuse on to Your Children

How Learned Behaviors Could Pass Your Substance Abuse on to Your Children

Children of addicted parents are 2 – 9 times more likely to have an addiction later in life

When you choose to stay addicted to any alcohol or substance, you increase the likelihood that your children will engage in substance abuse themselves. If you or a loved one in Des Moines is addicted to drugs or alcohol and worried about the effects on your children, learn how you can overcome substance abuse and help your children stay healthy.

Exposing Your Children to Addiction

The has released a fact sheet that summarizes the risks children of addicts face:

  1. Children of addicted parents are 2 – 9 times more likely to have an addiction later in life. This figure is increased even more if the parent appears by his actions to be permissive toward drug or alcohol use, as evidenced by his own use.
  2. Family interaction is defined by addiction. Addiction and the erratic emotional behaviors associated with it, such as angry outbursts and an unwillingness to address problems, becomes part of the family definition of “normal.”
  3. Children in a home with an addiction are far more likely to be abused. A majority of child welfare professionals identify an addicted parent as the top reason for abuse or violence in the home. This seems to be particularly true with an alcohol addiction.
  4. Children in a home with an addiction are more likely to be pulled out of the home or abandoned. , approximately 11,900 infants are abandoned at birth or are kept at hospitals, 78 percent of whom are drug-exposed.
  5. Depression and anxiety are much more common in children coming from home with an addicted parent. This is typically the result of instability in the home, or a perceived sense of being unloved.
  6. Children of addicted parents have higher incidences of physical and mental health problems. Many of these conditions are directly related to the abuse that unfortunately flows out of parental abuse, but substance abuse by the children is also a portion of these statistics.
  7. Behavior problems are much higher in children of addicted parents. Attention Deficit Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder are far more common, as are a general lack of empathy and a decrease in social adeptness.
  8. Children in homes with an addicted parent perform more poorly than peers in all academic subjects. These children tend to significantly underperform in arithmetic, perhaps related to the increased absenteeism resulting in missing core concepts.
  9. Women who are actively addicted while pregnant put their newborns at risk. This is equally true of mothers who breastfeed while maintaining an addiction. The impact of these choices on a baby’s body is devastating and often irreparable.

Even given the increased risk, however, children are very resilient and can recover from the effects of addiction in the family as long as they receive the support they need. With other supportive adults, children of addicted parents can overcome most of these pressures, and become self-sufficient, healthy, non-addicted adults.

Practical Considerations

Stepping away from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, there are several practical realities that you expose your children to when you become and remain addicted.

  • Children learn that addiction is normal. The power of defining something as normal cannot be overestimated. When your child accepts addiction as normal, this means there is no reason to consider clean living.
  • Children learn that drugs and alcohol are a valid way to deal with stress. Odds are that they have watched you get upset and grab a beer, or whatever your drug of choice might be. By modeling this to them, you show your children that substance abuse is a valid way to manage stress. It is a guarantee that your kids will have stress in their lives, and by demonstrating this to them you almost guarantee that they will consider turning to drugs or alcohol when problems arise.

By showing your children negative behavior, you deprive them of a positive model in their lives. Your children may mentally choose to step away from the learned behaviors that they have seen in you. They may decide to never drink or have any drugs in their systems. But a decision based on a negative – choosing “not” to be something instead of “to” be something – is typically a poor motivator.

If You Cannot Change For Yourself

Perhaps you find yourself incapable of pulling yourself out of addiction for yourself. It is so easy to fall into a place where you believe that you don’t deserve anything better than an addiction filled life, or that you are not good enough to beat the addiction. If you cannot change for yourself, think of your children. Do you honestly want them to struggle in the same way you have and perhaps continue to struggle, or do you want a better life for them? Each day you choose to stay addicted, you increase the likelihood that addiction will pass to the next generation.

The cost of addiction – any addiction – is too high. If you or a loved one in Des Moines is struggling with addiction, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about addiction. They can help you find your way.