Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and It's Effect on Children

Alcoholism and Substance Abuse with Kids at Home

Alcoholism and substance abuse has major affects on children. Be it the sibling abusing or the parents, the ramifications can be irretrievable during a child’s developmental years and beyond.

A Harsh Environment for Children

The unpredictable behavior of the addict creates a high level of anxiety and lack of stability for children. Parental guidance is either non-existent or extremely inconsistent, leading to hampered development and extremely high walls of defense. They become trapped in an experience brought on by the will of others.

The abuses of a childhood life entrapped by addiction can lead to many hardships down the road. Children are often forced to deal with circumstances that are far beyond their control:

  • parental separation
  • homelessness
  • abandonment
  • soured relationships/divorce
  • becoming an orphan/ward of the state
  • drug overdose or worse death due to the overdose
  • child abuse and neglect
  • incarceration of a parent
  • domestic violence
  • incest

The endless list of unfortunate events could go on. Children that are caught in the path of addiction are seldom left severely scared due to a lack of resources and adult advocacy on their behalf.

Consequences of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse

Emotional issues are very common among children living in an alcohol or drug infested environment. Anger and aggression can stem from something as simple as a bad grade. Incredibly unrealistic situations can cause them to live in fear. They may avoid allowing people to visit the home due to the constant state of chaos behind closed doors. Children may shy away from peer bonding to steer clear of letting anyone into the hell they are experiencing.

Authority figures start to look like the enemy. They want to protect their parents and will go out of their way to refrain from situations where anyone asks questions about their home life. Withdrawal from teachers and police is not uncommon for fear of the family secret being exposed.

As children become older, a distance begins to form. They don’t want others to know what they have endured for fear of having their secrets out in the open. It strips them of their security, creating the belief that they will be viewed differently. Due to the lack of security that a safe home environment facilitates, forming deep and meaningful relationships become particularly trying.

Since domestic violence is a learned behavior, they may also become an abuser in the future. If they witnessed a parent hitting in the name of “love” while under the influence, children are likely to mock this behavior in their adult relationships. Belief that anger is an acceptable release of frustration can begin a dangerous cycle of abuse that will continue from one generation to the next.

Protecting Our Children

Most substance and alcohol abusers do not see the assassination of their child’s innocence happening right before their eyes. While physical marks may not show, the emotional and psychological wounds lying beneath the surface have far deeper roots from years of alcoholism and substance abuse. The consequences of our childhood experiences, often affect the choices we make. It is important to seek help for the blameless victim of an addict to help them sort out the powerlessness they may feel as a result of an addicted family member. A far more dire consequence could be a child addicted to the same lifestyle in which they were forced to grow up in.

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