Parental Substance Abuse: Why You Should Get Treatment for Addiction Now!

Sad young man

Some addicts are of the misguided belief that their addiction has little effect on their children. This is especially true if they have managed to function quite normally – on the surface – and continue with everyday tasks like holding down a job. What this often means is, they delay seeking treatment for addiction and, sadly, this usually results in long term consequences for their children.

Below you will find some of the most common effects of parental substance abuse. If you recognise any of these patterns in your relationship with your children, The Cabin Chiang Mai runs an addiction treatment programme that can help you address these issues in a holistic way.

Inappropriate parenting

Inappropriate parenting comes in many forms. From letting your children watch TV programmes that are not suitable for their developmental stage to neglect of daily needs such as food and a hygienic living environment. When you seek treatment for addiction, your therapeutic team can also support you to start rebuilding a healthy relationship with your children and other family members.

Social isolation and interaction problems

Many children of substance misusing parents experience social isolation and problems interacting with their peers and other adults. In many cases, their children’s lives are often further complicated if official agencies – like children’s services – intervene. Rather than making children feel safer, this outside intervention can result in them feel even more vulnerable and insecure.

Attachment problems

Attachment problems are often a key characteristic of children who have been affected by parental substance misuse. Often, they have been repeatedly being let down or mistreated by one or both parents. Alternatively, they may have experienced a parent going in and out of addiction treatment – without success. There is a strong link between problematic substance misuse and the development of attachment issues – particularly for children who have experienced insecure, often volatile relationships, and are constantly dealing with unresolved feelings of abandonment, grief or loss.

Exposure to inappropriate adult behavior and toxic substances

Before entering addiction treatment, there is often a tendency for the addict to deny or play down the impact of repeated exposure to inappropriate adult behavior and toxic substances on their children. They often have blurred and compromised boundaries themselves and this is transferred onto their children as they expose them to people, situations and places that are unsuitable.

Below average educational achievements

Children of substance misusing parents often have issues with poor attendance and concentration at school. They are also less likely to get the support with homework and additional home based learning that other children their age receive. This often means that children become less interested in learning and more easily distracted in structured educational environments.

Psychological problems

Counseling and therapy centers are full with children and young adults adversely affected by drug addicted parents. In most cases, the first person to receive support around psychological problems related to their using is the addict themselves. Often their children do not receive any support until much later – if at all. This delay in addressing the effect of living with an addicted parent usually means their problems become further exacerbated and become much harder to treat.

Predisposition to early substance abuse

The outlook and behavior of young children is, for the most part, dictated by their environment, influences and support structure. Children who live with a drug addicted parent are at higher risk of misusing substances and subsequently becoming addicted themselves.

Offending behavior  leading to criminalisation

Anti-social and offending behavior in young children can often be traced back to inappropriate parenting and below average educational achievements. Early intervention and ongoing support can help, but far too often young children get labeled as trouble makers and criminalised without any consideration being given to the circumstances of their lives. Sadly, this criminalisation stays with them in the form of a criminal record or periods of imprisonment, making it harder for them to find meaningful employment.

Short or long term separation from parents

Children who have a drug or alcohol addicted parent often experience repeated periods of separation from their parents. Sometimes this is because their parent has sought support for their addiction and gone into addiction treatment. However, what is even more often the case; a child experiences a revolving door of family, friends and other adults in charge of their day–to-day care. This may lead to them becoming confused, resentful and unable to relate to adults who pose any boundaries or expectations on them in any authoritative way. This inability to handle authority often remains with them into their adult years and effects their education and future employment.

The decision to seek treatment for addiction must first and foremost be about the addict deciding that their life has become unmanageable and no longer wishing to live that way. However, there is an even further incentive for the addict who is also a parent: to give their children the stability, care and attentive parenting that they deserve.

The Cabin Chiang Mai takes an integrated and holistic approach to addiction treatment. Using an innovative combination of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), 12 step methodology and fitness, we work with willing and committed addicts to get started on the journey of recovery in order to reclaim their lives and personal well-being. We also offer a dedicated aftercare programme on completion of the addiction treatment programme.

If you have read this article and have concerns regarding the way your addiction is affecting not only yourself, but the lives of your children, we encourage you to contact our specialist team today. They will be able to conduct an assessment with you over the phone and discuss your options for receiving treatment in our facility based in a secluded beautiful resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand.