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The Effects of Parents Drug Use on Children

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The Effects Of Parents Drug Use On Children

My main goal in this paper is to shed some light on the effects of drug use people do not think about. Drug abuse is a huge problem that effects humans world wide. In some cases the drug abuse is not always illegal drugs. It can be alcohol, tobacco, even prescription drugs. Whether illegal or legal, drug use and abuse have immense implications on children. Some may not even be known. Most people that think of drug addicts do not consider the heartache and pain it causes for the children of the addict. This is effecting our children of the future and should be a major concern for anybody that wants the world to change for the better.

Drug use and abuse is as old as mankind itself, it is human nature for mankind to have the desire to drink, smoke, rub substances to make them feel relaxed, stimulated, or euphoric. You can trace wine use back to the early Egyptians. 3500 B.C. was the earliest historical record of the production of alcohol: the description of a brewery in an Egyptian papyrus. (1), narcotic use from 4000 B.C., and medicinal marijuana use back to China in 2737 B.C.. So as you can tell drug use and abuse has started with the beginning of time.

Parents need to understand that drugs and parenting do not mix. It is imperative that parents do not do drugs while the baby is still in the womb. Parents that expose their children to drug use are putting the children at high risk for serious heath risks. (2). A newborn that is exposed to drugs and alcohol can pose serious complications in the baby, even death. Taking any drug or using any alcohol while pregnant or nursing passes life threatening effects on to newborns. For this reason abusing drugs or alcohol is abusing children. In many states they can lose custody and end up in jail. (3). "Each year, approximately 11,900 infants are abandoned at birth or are kept at hospitals, 78% of whom are drug-exposed, the average daily cost for each of these babies is $460.18" (4). This is a huge problem in today's society and governments need to keep an extremely close eye on this abuse.

Families today that have parents that use and abuse alcohol or drugs typically have behavior and communication that is unpredictable. The family's structure may be non existent. Many times the rules of the house are not there or very vague. In some cases there may not be any rules and the children are free to do as they please. This can lead to a number of problems as you can imagine. Children in these homes do not realize that the behavior of the parent is not their fault. Children tend to blame themselves for the problems they experience from their parent's addiction. Children that are too young to realize that the behavior or mood of the parent is typically determined by the amount of drugs or alcohol in the parents system. These are the children that are typically confused. All they know is that; they love their parents, but are very mad at the situation. Also very hurt by their parents and the way they are treated. Unfortunately some children seem to believe that they are the problem and can make things better. Or that they can help their parents cure their addiction. (5)

Often these children are scared. They feel alone and helpless. They are at high risk of being victims of abuse. Whether its verbal, physical, and even sexual abuse, these are all very unhealthy family behaviors. They may not ever be physically abused or mentally abused but they may witness the parents abuse of other relatives, neighbors or even strangers. The signs of the abuse or psychological effects can be hard to spot. Some of these children even develop post traumatic stress disorder. This is the same disorder that effects people that have dealt with war crimes.(5) Despite the fact that these kids use friends as buffers for the problems at home some have a limited social life. They may be too embarrassed to bring friends home. For fear of the friends seeing the true home life they have. Or seeing the parent intoxicated or sedated. They may not want to go to public places with the parent. Or they may just lack the basic social skills to create good friendships, or maintain them. Children that do use social life as buffers often use their leadership skills to overachieve in school. Also they take on more prominent roles in extra curricular activities. This makes it hard to identify the children then because of the achievements they have reached.(5) I believe its up to teachers, guidance counselors , and principles to do a better job identifying these children. I think its imperative to try and teach the children some better copping skills. They should also try and educate the children on addiction and the odds of them falling into the same trap. This might give them a better opportunity to break the cycle. It might give them more self esteem if they realize that their parents addiction has nothing to do with them, and its not theeir fault.

Not every family is effected the same way by drug use in the home. Some families have a better shot at controlling the chaos of addiction if they have rituals in place. Family traditions, movie night, and even pizza or game night. When there is even one sober parent this may help is well. All of these things give a feeling of security and create a since of stability. Children may also just find another home weather a friends or family that is more stable to spend most of there time at (5). This also helps them get away from the situation and it creates a safe haven for them. This can also have negative effects on them, but probably not as bad as it would be to stay at home and watch your parent or parents do drugs. Or witnessing the effects of the drugs, or lack there of. In one study, 79% of adolescent runaways and homeless youth reported alcohol use in the home,53% reported problem drinking in the home, and 54% reported drug use in the home (6)

In 2005 the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (C.A.S.A.) released a comprehensive "white paper" document that showed serious risks. Parents who use illegal drugs, abuse alcohol, or use tobacco put 50% of our nations children at



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