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Addiction Is Not A Spectator Sport – The Effects of Addiction on Children

How Addiction Affects Children

There are no shortages of negative effects caused by substance addictions. However, the effects are adversely more profound when children are involved in a substance filled environment. Children experience various extents of neglect, emotional, mental and physical trauma.

How Addiction Effects Childrens Future & Behaviours

In the early stages of development, children are extremely susceptible to mimicking the behaviours and habits of those around them, especially their parents or guardians. Children living under conditions where one or both parents are addicts may lead them to become much more susceptible to also developing a substance dependence in their adolescence or adulthood. This also increases the chance of developing mental illnesses, causing a dual diagnosis.

The Mental Effects

Addiction is an inherently selfish disease, often with little to no regard of the negative effects that spill over into the live’s of loved one’s. The home environment of an addict can best be described as chaotic and insecure. Due to these living environments, children are more likely to do poorly at school, not respect their parents’ authority and may start to display behavioural problems that become progressive. This lack of parental authority can very easily lead to dangerous activities as time passes.

The Emotional Effects

Addicted parents frequently display detachment towards their children. This detachment causes extreme damage to the emotional state of young children, who are still developing emotional bonds. Children of addicts often develop deep trust issues and also become detached and disconnected. These children also suffer from a lack of empathy and remorse. As the addict prolongs their dependence, in time their children often assume the role of the parent and become conflicted and can develop damaging feelings of anxiety, stress, guilt and shame towards their parent/s.

The Physical Effects

Children can be affected by an addicted parent even before birth, when a pregnant mother is abusing substances, the unborn baby can be severely harmed. Growth stunt, physical defects, organ malfunction and mental disorders to name a few are the effects resulting from prenatal substance abuse. Apart from the prenatal dangers, children can also develop anxiety-based illnesses from their parents’ addictions, such as asthma or migraines. Parents under the influence of substances often lack the initiative to tend to the basic physical needs of their children. Moreover, substances cause individuals to lose their morality, which in turn can lead to children suffering from verbal or physical abuse and even sexual abuse in some cases. Children become extremely isolated and lonely in a household where one or both parents are addicts. This can lead to the development of depression, PTSD and self-harming behaviours.

Why the Effects Can Be Long-Lasting

Children generally don’t fully comprehend the addiction of their parents’ or what damage is being caused to themselves or their parents. The combination of the negative physical, mental and emotional trauma caused often lead to long-lasting or irreparable damage to children as they transition into adulthood. Childhood trauma is often linked to mental disorders and increased susceptibility of developing substance dependence.

Help for Substance Addiction

Addiction Recovery Centre focuses on invidualised programmes for the treatment of both psychiatric disorders and substance dependences. Reach out today – 082 886 3996.

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