You think they aren’t paying attention. They don’t know what’s going on.
Or, they’re just too young to understand that you are addicted to drugs and alcohol.
This is not the case.
Your kids are intuitive and perceive dangers around them.
And yes, you are a danger, if you are using and abusing drugs, alcohol, or both around them.
So, as a parent, you have to understand how it’s affecting them negatively, in order for you to step up, admit you need help, and go out to find the help you need in order to get clean.
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Addiction is a Form of Abuse
Even the irregular drug and alcohol abuse is capable of amounting to neglect and abuse by a parent. As a parent who struggles with addiction, you are going to engage in many behaviours which can amount to abuse.
For example, you’re not going to remember to pick up your kids from school, you don’t take them to the doctor, or you aren’t around for important events.
All of these forms of neglect are abusive and impact your child adversely.
It’s not only neglect, but abuse can lead to abuse (physical and emotional) as well. When people drink, they say things they will later regret. Some individuals become confrontational, others become abusive in the form of physically harming others.
Just because you love your child, does not mean you can control what you are doing when you’re using and abusing drugs and alcohol. Therefore, it might lead to an altercation or situation in which you hit your child or verbally abuse them.
Regardless of whether or not you think you have your addiction under control, you don’t and you can’t always control what you’re doing. Therefore, it can lead to different forms of neglect, abuse, and in some instances, can lead to criminal convictions depending on the severity of the abuse.
Even if this never occurs, your child is perceptive, knows what is going on, and your abuse and misuse are affecting them in many harmful ways.
Physical and Emotional Neglect
Physical abuse is often easy to spot. A parent hitting their child, spanking them when it isn’t warranted, or yelling at them in a manner which equates to verbal abuse.
But, it’s not only hitting your child that is negatively impacting them. Emotional abuse is oftentimes far more damaging to a child.
Some ways in which parents who are abusing drugs or alcohol will emotionally abuse or neglect their child include:
- Forgetting to pick them up or drop them off at places
- Always arriving late or calling someone to pick up/drop off kids for you
- Forgetting important dates and life events
- Neglecting your child by leaving them alone at home without food or appropriate care
- Asking your child to “cover” for you and tell others you are doing a good job in taking care of them
Children can perceive these issues and they understand what is going on. Even if they are young, over time, they’re going to realise a pattern of abuse and neglect.
What this does are causes barriers and walls to go up. Over time, kids aren’t going to trust the parent.
They aren’t going to inform them of issues at school, and they’ll neglect to tell parents about appointments.
It leads to the child not being able to trust their parent, their judgment, or their ability to take care of them when it is needed.
The Psychological Nature
Children who live in a household where parents are abusing drugs or alcohol (or both), oftentimes develop different psychological conditions.
Dysthymia, depression, social disorders, panic attacks, or phobias (of being alone, in large areas, in public, etc.) tend to manifest themselves.
The child learns that they can’t trust their parent and can’t rely on them for the care and nurturing they require. In turn, this leads to children not being able to trust outsiders or anyone for that matter, who is trying to help them.
They build up walls, they confront those who want to help them, and they place themselves in a corner, so as to avoid confrontation of any kind.
Although these disorders don’t always manifest themselves in children, they are likely to occur at some point in time as the child is developing. This is even more so the case if children are very young when they first notice the drug or alcohol abuse and addiction.
They realise from a very young age that they are on their own and have to take care of themselves, so they get to a point where it is difficult for them to trust anyone.
Learned Behaviour and Genetic Predisposition Leading to Addiction
Parents should also realise that their addiction is clearly visible to their children. Kids tend to mimic what they see at home. They tend to do what their parents do.
So, if a parent is smoking, doing drugs, or is always drunk in front of their child, the child is going to believe this is “normal” behaviour. They are going to want to do what their parents are doing. They are going to want to follow in their footsteps.
Constant exposure to drugs and alcohol is going to become something that is normal to the child. So, they’re eventually going to start doing the same.
In many cases, genetics are also going to have an effect on children, and whether or not they will themselves turn to drugs and alcohol and abuse it during their lifetime.
It’s a proven fact that genetic predisposition is passed down to children.
Although it doesn’t mean every child whose parents are addicts will follow in the same pattern; it does, however, mean they are at a heightened risk if their parents do abuse drugs or alcohol.
Kids do what their parents do; even in instances where they know the behaviour is wrong, they tend to do what they see in their home.
Parents who are abusing drugs or alcohol in front of them are likely to pass these bad behaviours down to the children they are supposed to be protecting and safeguarding in the home.
Interpersonal Effects Outside the Home
The neglect and abuse do emotionally and physically harm your child. And, they are going to manifest these emotions to the outside world they come into contact with.
If a child is used to abuse, they are going to lash out and take it out on their teachers, counsellors, or those who want to help them.
Even if these adults are aware of the abuse at home, and trying to veer the child in the right direction, oftentimes the child is going to push them away.
Since the child doesn’t know what love feels like, or what it feels like to be under the care of an individual who is protecting their best interest, they’ll tend to push those away who are truly trying to help them and want them to succeed.
There are many ways in which a child who is seeing drug and alcohol abuse in their household on a daily basis is going to manifest their emotions outside of the home.
Some of these ways include:
- Children not discussing their emotions and hiding things
- Rude behaviour and mistreating those who are trying to help the child
- Pushing away anyone who wants to provide advice or guidance to the child
- Feelings of guilt or helplessness (not knowing how to communicate with others who can/want to help the child)
- Manipulating characteristics
- Inability to accept change in the external environment they are surrounded by
Although these aren’t the only ways in which a child might lash out or behave inappropriately, these are some of the common ways in which children who are victims of abuse and neglect, are going to react in different situations.
Getting Help as an Addict
It’s important for parents who are addicts to seek out professional help and treatment for addiction. Even if you think your kids aren’t aware of the situation, or if you believe they are too young, oftentimes this is not the case.
Children are perceptive.
They are receptive to love, and when they aren’t being treated well and aren’t properly cared for, they become defensive in their own right, as a manner of protecting themselves from the world because they believe they can’t trust their parents to protect them.
Ending the cycle of addiction begins with checking into rehab and getting help before it becomes too late.
As a parent, if you are dealing with addiction and can’t bring yourself to stop, it’s important to seek out professional help sooner rather than later.
Not only is it going to allow you to get clean and to get your life back in order, but it is also going to allow you to become a parent to your child.
You can mend relationships, but you have to get the right support in order to stop the addictive tendencies which you have become so used to in your daily life.
Your child’s well-being and future rest on it!
Don’t struggle alone
Don’t wait until you or your loved one reach crisis point. If you feel you may require rehab, we can assist you by offering you a free telephone assessment.
Contact us today to discuss the options that are available, from normal rehab centres to those that can provide individualised treatments that consider your circumstances and fulfil all your requirements. You can contact us on 0800 140 4690. Alternatively, you may contact us via this website.