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How parental substance abuse affects children

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2019 | Child Custody

When a parent has a problem with drugs or alcohol, it can impact the entire family. In many cases, when one party within a marriage struggles with abusing substances, it can ultimately lead to divorce. If you are among those who have recently split from a substance-abusing spouse, you may have valid concerns about your former partner’s ability to parent your shared child when you are not around.

While, in some cases, substance-abusing parents can make a clean break from their addictions and go on to be great parents. In other instances, it is the children of addicts who wind up struggling the most. Just how can parental drug addiction impact children?

A widespread problem

According to Psychology Today, one in five American children now lives in a home where at least one parent abuses drugs or alcohol. The results of a recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School are shining a light on the ways in which having a substance abuser for a parent can affect a child’s growth, emotional well-being and overall development.

For example, kids who have parents who abuse drugs or alcohol are significantly more likely to develop such addictions, themselves. Additionally, they are more likely to experience other behavioral or medical problems than their peers who do not have substance-abusing parents. They are also more likely to fall victim to certain types of abuse, among them sexual, emotional or physical abuse. Similarly, children whose parents abuse drugs or alcohol are four times more likely to experience neglect at the hands of their peers. When your child’s other parent has a drug or alcohol addiction, it can also lead to considerable educational or developmental delays.

If you have genuine concerns about your child’s other parent’s ability to properly care for your child because of his or her reliance or dependence on drugs, speak up. Doing so can help ensure your child gets the stability he or she needs. It may also encourage your former partner to take steps to change his or her ways and become a better parent.


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