An employer who has drug addicts in his/her employ already has it bad. With drug addicts in the workplace, the risk of workplace accidents is higher, and so are the costs that come with drug addiction at work. All that, however, pales in comparison to the suffering a child with drug addicted parents has to go through. Here are some of the unfortunate ways drug addicted parents affect the lives of their kids. One of them is so horrible you can’t help but feel anger towards such loathsome parents.
Kids are ashamed about having drug addicted parents
Drug addicts display unpredictable behaviour. As a result, children are forced to stay away from friends for fear of being judged. Bullying is also a possibility. They also have no choice but to avoid school events where parents are supposed to go. For children of drug addicted parents, having such people for parents can become a guilty secret that they may have to keep as they grow up.
Drug addicted parents often neglect their children
When a child is under the care of parents with drug problems, “care” is often the last thing they get from them. It is not unheard of for drug addicted parents to just leave their child alone at home on a consistent basis. Whatever needs they have are ignored too. In some extreme cases, the parents were so high on drugs that they actually just leave their child to die.
They are forced to become self-reliant
Now some people might say this is a good thing. However, considering the situation that gave rise to their self-reliance, it’s simply unfair for children to have to fend for themselves. More often than not, the children of drug addicts have no choice but to prepare their own meals, keep their place decent and take care of younger siblings. Kids are supposed to study, play or do whatever it is that kids from more fortunate families do, not become substitute parents at such a young age. Unfortunately, this is often the case for children of drug addicts.
Children of drug addicted parents suffer from abuse
Name the kind of abuse, and it’s more likely to happen to a child with drug addicted parents. Over the years, we have heard tales of children being verbally, physically, emotionally and mentally abused by their junkie parents. Even more horrible are the countless stories of sexual abuse committed against them by their very own parents, all because they were high on some drug.
A child could suffer from developmental and mental health issues
When a child is exposed to the excesses that mark the drug addiction of their parents, he or she becomes more likely to exhibit behavioural problems. Managing the child will become difficult for both family members and teachers, as the child could act out both at home and at school. Worse, children whose parents are hooked on drugs have a higher risk of suffering from anxiety, depression and other types of mental issues.
Children tend to blame themselves for their parent’s drug addiction
“Had I behaved better, Mum wouldn’t become a drug addict.” “Maybe Dad wouldn’t be so mean to us if I only got better grades.” These are thoughts that may sometimes run through a child’s mind whenever they experience neglect or abuse at the hand of their drug addicted parents. Children do tend to blame themselves for whatever actions their parents make because of their drug problem. They’re not in a position to realise that their parents have their own reasons why they take drugs. All they see are the adverse effects they are suffering, and feelings of guilt about that often bubble to the surface.
They could become drug addicts themselves
This hasn’t been definitively proven yet, but there’s this theory that addiction might be genetic. This means the tendency to abuse drugs might be inherited. Statistics from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) seem to support this. According to the NIH, children of drug addicted parents are 45 to 79 percent more likely to become drug abusers themselves.
Some famous examples of children of drug addicted parents who had faced drug issues themselves were Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of singers Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston, and Peaches Geldof, daughter of musician Bob Geldof and television presenter, the late Paula Yates. Both Brown and Geldof died under circumstances similar to that of their mothers. Brown was found unconscious in a bathtub like her mother, went under a coma and died six months later. Geldof, on the other hand, died after overdosing on heroin, the same drug that killed Yates.
Still, children of drug addicted parents aren’t doomed to be just like their parents just because of genetics. Many people suffering from substance abuse problems come from families with no history of drug addiction whatsoever. The environment in which the child was raised can also be a huge factor. Growing up in the midst of drug abuse can make children tend to join into such activities.
Drug addicted parents and their children need help
In all fairness, drug use doesn’t automatically make one a bad parent. There are many parents out there with drug habits who manage to use their substance of choice in a low-risk way. Still, no matter how well they manage their drug problem, their drug habit can still negatively affect their ability to parent.
Like all drug addicts, drug addicted parents need help, too. They need help overcoming it, and overcoming it can take a long time. While we all have the tendency to criticise or judge such parents, they need all the help and support that they can get. The same goes for their children.
How can you help?
To be perfectly honest, dealing with drug addiction is never easy. Still, we can’t just stand idly by as loved ones suffer from its effects. If you are closely related or just plain close to a family in a situation where the parents are addicted to drugs and their children are suffering for it, you may have to talk to the parents before things get any worse. However, don’t push them into talking about the issue. Just talk to them about life in general and listen to whatever they have to say. Sooner or later, the issue could just come up. When they do bring up the subject, make it clear to them that their drug issue is causing their kids undue harm. Convince them to get professional treatment for their children’s sake.
As for the children, it would be great if you can spend time with them, especially when they are related to you. That way, you would be in a position to fill in for any of the shortcomings of their parents. If possible, get them to open up about their problem regarding their drug addicted parents. More importantly, make sure they understand that whatever the toll drug addiction is taking on their family, they did not cause it. Their parents’ drug addiction is never their fault.