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Unfortunately, there is strong evidence to suggest that adults who were subject to either sexual or physical abuse during childhood are much more likely to develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol.

In the USA, the National Children’s Alliance states around 700,000 children are abused each year.

Research carried out back in 2003 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said around two-thirds of children subject to abuse attributed the abuse to their caregivers’ substance misuse.

Unfortunately, up-to-date data applying to the UK does not exist. If you are able to find such data, please contact us today and we shall update this article.

The cycle of addiction and child abuse

It’s true that the vast majority of parents work tirelessly in helping to create a loving and supporting environment for their children. It’s also true that at least some of these people guilty of abusing their children due to their addiction are not entirely to blame for these circumstances.

For instance, many of these caregivers may have been abused themselves during their own childhood. The cycle of addiction and child abuse may have existed in these people’s family for many generations. The cycle of addiction and child abuse may become entrenched if radical intervention on behalf of Social Services does not take place.

Often people view child abuse as an evil that should be stopped. Obviously, we would agree that child abuse should be stopped whenever it is detected. To do otherwise would mean the State is failing its future generation. However, we disagree that child abuse is always evil.

Many people guilty of committing child abuse are suffering from the disease of addiction. If these people are given the opportunity to recover and rehabilitate from this illness, many of these people would be able to establish their role as suitable and worthy caregivers.

Often, people’s perception of child abuse is framed through example situations portrayed in TV programmes and films. These example situations are typically extreme examples of child abuse. In reality, child abuse is usually much subtler in nature. For instance, the vast majority of care abuse is neither sexual or physical in nature. Instead, the vast majority of child abuse is psychological in nature.

The four types of child abuse

Roughly, there exist four types of child abuse. These include:

  • Psychological abuse: This is the most common type of child abuse. Psychological abuse does not equate to isolated incidence when a child is reprimanded. Instead, psychological abuse is characterised by long-term emotional hurt that may cause the child to experience an impediment in social skills as a result of the abuse
  • Sexual abuse: This is when an adult uses a child for any sexual purpose. Sexual abuse is seldom committed without psychological and physical abuse. For this reason, sexual abuse is often the most damaging form of child abuse
  • Physical abuse: This is when a child sustains any sort of physical injury at the hands of an adult. This injury could be caused by cutting, hitting, burning or throwing
  • Neglect: Neglect is perhaps the most common form of child abuse that’s directly attributed to addiction. Neglect occurs when a caregiver neglects his or her responsibilities in relation to caregiving. Types of neglect include emotional neglect, physical neglect, medical neglect and educational neglect

If you are a caregiver and you feel you could be neglecting your child due to your alcohol or drug use, then it’s likely you could benefit from undergoing addiction treatment. Continuing to abuse substances will ensure this form of child abuse will continue until your child is permanently damaged by your behaviour.

Perhaps the most effective way to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol is to attend a residential rehab clinic. You can learn about treatment options in your local area by contacting Rehab 4 Addiction today on 0800 140 4690 to speak to our friendly helpline advisors. Our helpline is free and utterly confidential.

Stopping thecycle of abuse and addiction

You may be particularly concerned about having children if you were abused as a child yourself. Because child abuse often arises in a ‘cycle’, you may be concerned that you may abuse your own children in the same way you were abused yourself as a child.

Since the vast majority of child abuse arises due to neglect, then this is a valid concern, particularly if you feel you are dependent on drugs or alcohol in any shape or form.

Some of the ways that may help you avoid this cycle of child abuse include:

  • Learning parenting skills/techniques before you have children: if you grew up in a dysfunctional home, then it’s likely that parenting does not come naturally to you. The good news is that many of these skills can be learned. Please see the resources section below where we list a number of organisations that exist to help you learn effective parenting skills
  • Better processing your own emotions: if you suffered child abuse, it’s likely you will be overrun by negative emotions such as anger that you are unable to control. Although this is not your fault, it’s important to learn how to channel these emotions before you bring another life into this world. One way to learn this is by attending anger management classes
  • Ensure your own needs are met: if you aren’t able to function without alcohol or drugs, then it’s clearly not the right time to think about having children. If your own needs are not being met in natural and healthy ways, then you may benefit from undertaking addiction treatment
  • Ask for help: for most issues that result from child abuse you experienced in the past, help is available and well developed. Again, see the resources section below where we list organisations set up to assist you in overcoming issues that have arisen due to child abuse you suffered in the past

Further resources

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