The Impact of Parental Addiction

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When someone struggles with addiction, their loved ones often pay a steep price. When the individual with the substance use disorder is a parent, the impact on their children can be particularly destructive. In today’s post, we discuss the many mental and behavioral health challenges that have been linked to parental addiction.

What is Parental Addiction?

The term parental addiction refers to compulsive substance abuse among individuals who have children under the age of 18.

Of course, older adults who have grown children can also develop addictions. However, for the purposes of this post we are focusing on the ways that a parent’s struggles with substances can impair the healthy development of the children and adolescents who depend on them.

To underscore the scope of this problem, the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare estimates that about 8.7 million children and adolescents in the United States (or about one of every eight people age 17 or younger) are currently living in a household with at least one addicted parent.

What Is the Impact of Parental Addiction on Child Development?

The impact of parental addiction on child development can be far-reaching and severe. For example, according to a June 2012 article in the journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews, researchers have found that the children of addicted parents are more likely to struggle with a range of behavioral health concerns than are children who grew up in families that were not impacted by parental addiction. 

The findings that were mentioned in this report include the following:

  • Children of addicted parents have exhibited evidence of emotional and behavioral problems as early as age 2.
  • Studies have linked parental addiction with lower grade point average and increased grade retention.
  • Boys whose family history includes multiple generations of addiction are more likely to show deficits in memory, verbal learning, performance IQ, and both verbal and abstract reasoning.
  • Children of mothers who abused heroin are more likely to score poorly on tasks that involve auditory and quantitative memory.
  • By the time they reach early adulthood, children of addicted parents are twice as likely to have a mood disorder.
  • Parental addiction has been linked with a higher than average prevalence of anxiety, depression, defiance, aggression, and conduct problems.
  • If a parent struggles with both addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder, the risk that their children will have emotional or behavioral problems is higher than in families that are affected by parental addiction, but not mental illness.
  • Among young adults, 53% of those whose parents struggled with addiction also have a substance use disorder. Among the general population in the same age range, the rate of addiction is about 25%.


How children are affected by parental addiction and alcoholism

Types of Addiction Treatment for Parents

Parents who are seeking addiction treatment have an array of options. When you’re trying to find help, it’s important to remember that there’s no single “right” way to recover from addiction. Instead, you should be looking for the program that’s the best fit for you. 

Depending on a variety of factors, one of the following programs may be the ideal place to start your recovery:

Benefits of Parents Going to Drug Rehab

The primary benefit of a parent going to rehab is that it can empower them to end their substance abuse and start building a healthier future for themselves and their families. 

If an individual is the parent of a child or younger adolescent, going to rehab may also minimize the impact of parental addiction on child development.

Here are some additional reasons why going to drug rehab can be such a beneficial choice for parents:

  • Making the courageous decision to enter rehab sets a good example for your children. Choosing to get help demonstrates that you realize you have a problem and that you’re willing to take the necessary steps to deal with this health concern.
  • During rehab, you can develop conflict resolution, effective communication, and problem solving skills. In addition to supporting your continued recovery, these capabilities can also help you relate to your partner and children in a healthier and more productive manner.
  • Many rehabs offer family therapy sessions or other family support services. These opportunities may be ideal starting points for repairing the damage that your addiction has caused within the context of your family.
  • Drug rehab can introduce you to the benefits of sharing support with other members of the recovery community. It can also connect you with resources that can support your continued progress after you have completed treatment. 

Contact Our Los Angeles Addiction Treatment Center at Renewal Health Group

Renewal Health Group offers customized addiction treatment services for adults at several convenient locations throughout southern California. At each location and within every program, you can expect to receive quality clinical care and comprehensive personal support from a team of skilled and compassionate professionals. 

Untreated addiction can have a devastating effect on you and your family. But when you get the help you need at a Renewal Health Group facility, you can start living the life you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.

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