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Children of Drug & Alcohol Addicted Parents

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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, having a parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can lead to lifelong problems if the child or teen doesn’t receive help and support.

About 25 percent of U.S. children younger than 18 years are exposed to alcohol abuse or dependence through a family member, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Exposure to drug abuse affects countless others.

More Likely to Become Addicts Themselves

Research shows that these children are more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders during their teen years. And the likelihood that they will use drugs or alcohol early, and – for both genetic and environmental reasons – become addicted to these substances, is higher than those who do not grow up in these environments. In fact, this population is at the highest risk to become drug and alcohol abusers, according to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics.

Foster Care, the Juvenile Justice System, and Therapy

Children of addicted parents are also more likely to end up in foster care, the juvenile justice system, and – once they reach adulthood – therapy for mental health disorders, marital problems, and trouble parenting their own children.

Addicted parents often lack the ability to provide structure or discipline within their families, according to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics. They also tend to be less patient and to expect more from their children than do non-substance-abusing parents.

Child Abuse

The majority of child welfare professionals report that substance abuse is a factor in at least half of all child abuse cases. More than one-third of these workers say it contributes to at least 75 percent of the cases.

Sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Association for Children of Alcoholics