Parents & Children

For Children, Tweens, and Teens: If you’re worried mom or dad drinks too much or uses drugs

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If you’re worried that your mom or dad drinks too much or uses drugs, there are some good initial resources on the Internet for you to look at. They provide some very good information for questions you may have, and give you some ideas about people, places, and things that can help you. Remember: It’s not your fault and you can get help for yourself. Check out the following links for more information:

* Above the Influence’s When Your Parents Use Drugs [including too much alcohol]
* The National Association for Children of Alcoholics Kid’s Page
* Kids Health’s Coping with an Alcoholic Parent
* Alateen

For Parents: How Addiction to Alcohol and Other Drugs Affects Children

“The people hurt most by drugs and alcohol don’t even use them; they are the CHILDREN of alcoholics and other drug dependent parents.”
National Association for Children of Alcoholics

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Growing up in households affected by alcohol abuse, alcoholism and abuse of other substances adversely impacts children, including social, emotional, and cognitive problems—and can result in reverberations throughout a life time. If a parent is addicted to alcohol or other substances (that is, they can’t stop drinking alcohol and/or using other drugs despite repeated negative repercussions from drinking or using drugs), the emotional roller coaster that ensues in the family will be stressful and traumatic. The home is not a place of comfort and safety under these conditions.

Additionally, when there is domestic violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or criminal activity—the prevalence of which can rise due to the consequences of alcohol and drug addiction—the breadth and depth of the trauma and stress will expand. Life becomes a nightmare, without the ability to simply wake up. The emotional strain and pain becomes extremely damaging to the body, mind, heart and spirit.

The level of trauma and stress due to an addictive parent’s behavior will vary depending on the behavior, as well as on the resilience of the child. Think of the consequences along a spectrum. Due to the nature of addiction, the behavior surrounding addiction, and the consequent psycho-emotional stress — it’s going to have an impact all along the spectrum. It’s simply a matter of degree and intensity. Being a parent, alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and addiction to other drugs, don’t mix. Parents need to intervene for the safety and well-being of the child. For the addictive parent, this means seeking professional help for themselves and for their child(ren). For a non-addictive parent or other family adult, safety for a child should always be priority.

Children of Alcoholics: Important Facts

In their publication, Children of Alcoholics: Important Facts, the National Association for Children of Alcoholics includes a list of the impact of alcohol abuse and alcoholism on children and the family (their publication elaborates on each point listed):

1. Alcoholism affects the entire family.
2. Many people report being exposed to alcoholism in their families.
3. There is strong, scientific evidence that alcoholism tends to run in families. Children of alcoholics are more at risk for alcoholism and other drug abuse than children of non-alcoholics.
4. Alcoholism usually has strong negative effects on marital relationships.
5. Alcohol is associated with a substantial proportion of human violence, and perpetrators are often under the influence of alcohol.
6. Based on clinical observations and preliminary research, a relationship between parental alcoholism and child abuse is indicated in a large proportion of child abuse cases.
7. Children of alcoholics exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety more than children of non-alcoholics.
8. Children of alcoholics experience greater physical and mental health problems and higher health care costs than children from non-alcoholic families.
9. Children of alcoholics score lower on tests measuring verbal ability.
10. Children of alcoholics often have difficulties in school.
11. Children of alcoholics have greater difficulty with abstraction and conceptual reasoning.
12. Children of alcoholics may benefit from adult efforts which help them to…
13. Children can be protected from many problems associated with growing up in an alcoholic family.
14. Maternal alcohol consumption during any time of pregnancy can cause alcohol related birth defects or alcohol related neurological deficits.

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