Effects of Parental Drug Abuse on Children

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Heather Swenson
Mandy Jesser
English Composition I
1 May 2013
Effects of Parental Drug Abuse on Their Children

As soon as birth, children are exposed to new things; new life experiences that will develop the path of which direction their life will take. Adolescence is the most important time in a child’s life because it is where they learn appropriate behavior from their family and the outside world. Some children are able to use these experiences to differentiate at an early age what is right and what is wrong and hopefully carry this into adulthood. What happens when children are exposed to the wrong experiences at an early age? What happens if children assume that what they are seeing is okay because one of their parents are engaging in harmful behavior? How does this type of experience affect the way a child develops? These are questions that I have to ask myself everyday because my children are victims of this. I have two boys, who are 10 and 7 and a daughter that is 5. Their father, who is my ex-husband now, is a drug addict and I see new issues arise with our children each day as they get older. Parental substance abuse is often one of the biggest deterrents of normal child development. It is because of the exposure to the significant increase of parental drug abuse in Colorado that the emotional, psychological and physical well-being of a child is at risk, making the probability of normal development unlikely.

The emotional state of a child is always fragile as they usually are more sensitive to the environment they are surrounded by. This is typically because of their inability to fully understand what is happening. When a parent abuses drugs, a child reacts to the behavior that a parent exhibits while under the influence of substances. In most cases, children cope very poorly, showing anger by lashing out or they become withdrawn and avoid making friends because of the fear that someone may discover their parent has a problem. Other children become overachievers, hiding the addiction of their parent by becoming the center of attention through competing in sports or excelling academically. However, this can be harmful to a child because they may try to use these tactics to influence a parent, trying to make them proud, and cause them to refrain from using substances. If there are siblings in the home, children may attempt to behave extremely well, not fighting with each other to keep the home peaceful. Typically this does not work and the child or children feel guilty for not being able to make their parent quit as the end result, causing further emotional distress. I deal with this every day because my children constantly try to be perfect, to not create stressful situations and it causes more stress on them. Children of an addicted parent will then begin to accept blame for the addiction their parent has and become the parent themselves, causing them to grow up faster. My oldest son constantly blames himself when his father relapses, thinking that he has done something to cause it. He also feels that it is necessary to parent his brother and sister when situations arise that he feels warrant protecting them. Because of the loss of normalcy, a child will eventually develop a mistrust of their parent and this will transfer over to other adults and authority figures because of the lack of stability in the home. This is a true statement because my children have problems receiving instructions and discipline from adults other than myself or their father yet the question anything that they see us doing or tell them to do. Another impact of a parent abusing substances on the emotional health of a child is the child’s inability to understand the emotions of others, causing difficulty to form and maintain relationships with others because the child is more mature than their peers. (Protecting Children) All of these coping skills are necessary in the development of a child because without them, they will become...
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