Nats Natters – Effects of Significant others Alcohol or other substance abuse, On Children

“I’m not hurting anyone just myself” this is a statement that many substance abusers make while in addiction. But unfortunately this is not the case as many studies have shown that the behaviour of addicts and alcoholics can affect everyone around them including family, friends, children, employers and co-workers.

To me the most hazardous effect is on the children of an addict. It can have such an affect that it will determine how they live the rest of the their life even through adulthood. Young children who do not have a positive role model or a strong guidance will have them guessing what exactly “Normal”is.

While even ust exposing children to alcohol and drug addicition additional abuse or neglect can also manifest in some of the following ways from being drunk or high:

  • High criticism and low warmth from parent
  • The child takes on a parenting role for younger siblings
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor school attendance
  • Behavioural difficulties
  • Forcing a child to hide an adult’s drug abuse or alcoholism
  • Consistently ignoring a child or their needs
  • Emotion distance (in some cases girls act in and boys act out)
  • Sense of not being worthy of being loved

At a recent talk on Alcohol- Whats the harm? some statistics about parental alcohol abuse were highlighted. For instance:

  • 9% of children experience verbal abuse
  • 5.4% are left in an unsafe situation
  • 2.8% of children are exposed to violence in the home
  • Children as young as 4 are aware of an addiction problem in the home without having to be told

It has been observed that children who grow up amongst drug abuse and alcoholism tend to grow up with addiction problems also. This then becomes a cycle within the family making those children who are born into homes with an addiction are more likely to end up in the cycle than those who are born into a drug-free parent.

After growing up in an atmosphere where denial, lying and keeping secrets was the norm, adult children of alcoholics and other substance users can develop serious trust problems. All the broken promises of the past tell them that trusting someone will backfire on them in the future.

How can we break the cycles? Well supporting local services like ourselves here in Swan Family Support and having more addiction education within schools and youth groups. Awareness is the the main focus for the children. Lets try stop the cycle of addiction.

If you have alcohol or substance abuse problems and you have children in the home, you may want to consider just how your addiction is affecting them.



Written by: Natalie Harmon of Swan FSO

Sources: Pinterest-substance abuse counselling, alcohol whats the harm talk.

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