Neglect and Abuse Increase the Risk for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Research studies show that neglect and abuse increase the risk for drug and alcohol addiction. In particular, if you were abused and neglected as a child, there is a high risk that you might end up abusing drugs and alcohol and struggling with substance abuse and addiction as a result.

This is unfortunate because millions of children across the United States are abused every year. Depending on the severity of the neglect and abuse, these children can show physical injuries that last for up to several weeks. However, these forms of child abuse can have other consequences that are far more longer lasting both for the victims as well as their families and communities. In many cases, they might even have far reaching consequences for people throughout their lives as well as through their generations.

That said, child neglect and abuse are often discussed according to the type of consequences that they cause. These consequences can be societal, behavioral, psychological, emotional, or physical. Even so, the lines in between these types of consequences are blurred by reality.

For instance, if you were abused and neglected, you might have experienced damage to your growing brain. In turn, this could have psychological ramifications, such as emotional difficulties and cognitive delays.

On the other hand, psychological problems such as depression and anxiety will become evident in the form of risk taking behaviors like overeating, substance abuse and addiction, smoking, and unprotected sex.

Due to these risk taking behaviors, there is a probability that you may end up struggling with long term problems with your health, including but not limited to cancer, obesity, diabetes, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Although not everyone who was neglected and abused will end up struggling with a high risk of drug and alcohol addiction, this risk is still evident in most of the cases of child neglect and abuse.

1. Physical Effects of Neglect and Abuse

If you were abused and neglected as a child, you might end up struggling with injuries ranging from minor bruises and cuts to bleeding, broken bones, or even death. In time, the physical evidence of abuse will most likely disappear. However, the suffering and pain you suffer will become the foundation of most of the longer term effects that you experience on your health and wellness.

According to the NSCAW - the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being - 28 percent of all the children who were subjected to maltreatment, neglect, and abuse ended up living with chronic physical health conditions.

Some of the issues related to your physical health that you might suffer as a result of child abuse include but are not limited to:

2. Psychological Effects of Neglect and Abuse

Immediately after suffering from child abuse, you might experience immediate emotional effects like isolation, fear, and an inability to trust other people. In many cases, these effects will end up translating to longer term problems with relationships, self-esteem, and depression. Other additional psychological problems that you might suffer as a result include but are not limited:

3. Behavioral Effects of Neglect and Abuse

Although it is not necessarily true that you will experience behavioral issues as a result of being the victim of child neglect and abuse, there is a still a high risk that you may end up struggling with these issues.

According to the NSCAW, for instance, 50 percent of all the victims of child abuse had a high risk for behavioral and emotional problems. Some of the behavioral issues that you could suffer as a result of suffering such abuse include:

Understanding Child Neglect and Abuse

Addiction, also known as a substance use disorder, is a progressive and chronic psychological and physical health disease that develops slowly but ends up having devastating consequences for the victim, their loved ones and family, as well as their community.

There are many different causes of substance abuse and addiction. As such, they cannot be isolated to particular events or reduced to a single factor. In many cases, addiction will develop as a result of a combination of environmental, social, and biological factors.

Taken together, all these factors can create the ideal situation for the development of a substance use disorder. It is also for this reason that just about anyone - irrespective of their age, socioeconomic status, or family background - might end up struggling with addiction.

That said, there are some factors that might increase the risk of addiction much more significantly than others. One of these factors is child abuse and neglect. This is because of the physical and psychological pain that comes with abuse and neglect.

Abuse, on the other hand, is similar to addiction to alcohol and drugs. this is because it comes with different components and causes. These different causes can be present at varying degrees. The important thing to keep in mind is that they can all affect the victim both indirectly and directly.

Irrespective of the form of child abuse you suffered and the degree to which it took place, it is important to take all of these different factors into account. That said, the following are the common forms of child abuse and neglect:

But what is the relationship between child abuse and neglect and addiction to drugs and alcohol?

The Link Between Child Abuse and Substance Use

There are wide variety of ways in which child neglect and abuse can lead to substance abuse and addiction later on in life. The first could be as a result of parental substance abuse and addiction.

Your parents might be abusing drugs and alcohol as a result of the fact that they suffered abuse during their childhood. As a result, they might start abusing you due to the experiences that they experienced during their formative years. Some of the theories that are used to explain child abuse and addiction include:

a) Cognitive Disorganization Hypotheses

According to this theory, alcohol abuse and alcoholism can both increase the risk of violence. This is because alcohol interferes with proper communication. As a result, it can lead to misinterpretation of social cues, underestimation of the effects of violence and aggression, and overestimation of threats (both real and perceived).

b) Deviance Disavowal Hypotheses

This theory suggests that people who abuse alcohol and end up abusing others will often attribute their violence and aggression to their alcoholism. As a result, this can ensure that they minimize and avoid personal responsibility for the behavior that they engaged in while drunk.

c) Disinhibition Hypotheses

These hypotheses propose that alcohol has pharmacological effects on the brain. These effects, on the other hand, can interfere with the actions going on in certain centers of the brain, particularly those that control and inhibit behaviors that are socially unacceptable.

With regards to the asserting that neglect and abuse increase the risk of drug and alcohol addiction, it is highly likely that you may turn to these addictive substances because you were abused during your childhood.

By so doing, you would be looking for a way to cope with the traumatic experiences that you went through during your formative years. Child abuse could also cause you to struggle with depression and anxiety - among other mental health issues - later on in your life.

Instead of seeking counseling and therapy to deal with all these issues, you might turn to drugs and alcohol. this is because of the effects and consequences of your mental health disorder.

This form of self-medication might only deal with the negative symptoms of your disorder in the short term. Over the long term, it could cause you to develop an increasingly difficult substance use disorder that eventually leads to addiction.

This is why it is important to keep in mind that using drugs and drinking alcohol to deal with the negative feelings that you have a result of the abuse and neglect that you suffered as a child is not effective. It will only cover these feelings without addressing them. As a result, you might end up getting caught in a new cycle of abuse - this time involving drugs and alcohol.

Substance abuse and child neglect are also related due to the existence of antisocial disorders. If you were abused as a child, you might engage in such behaviors as delinquency, violence, and aggression later on in your life. Research studies speculate that children who display these behaviors are likely to seek out others who suffer in the same way. These children, while together, might start experimenting with alcohol and drugs to deal with the antisocial disorders that they have been struggling with.

If you were abused as a child, you might turn to addictive substances to deal with the symptoms of the growing trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder that arises from your childhood experiences.

Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs as a result of going through an extremely stressful and painful situation - including but not limited to actual and threatened violence. If you are struggling with this mental health disorder due to your childhood abuse and neglect, you may show the following effects and symptoms:

A large percentage of the children who suffered child neglect and abuse struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. To manage the symptoms of this mental health disorders, you might turn to alcohol and drugs. eventually, you will find that you are struggling with both this mental illness as well as a co-occurring substance use disorder or addiction.

Getting Help

Child neglect and abuse increase the risk of drug and alcohol addiction. If you have been struggling with these issues, it is recommended that you seek help from a professional treatment and rehabilitation facility.

Often, the facility will offer you medically supervised detoxification services as the first step on the road to recovery. These services will help you overcome your physical dependence on drugs and alcohol as well as manage any withdrawal symptoms and substance cravings that arise during the first stage of your treatment.

After that, you will be provided with counseling and therapy options, such as individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, animal assisted therapy, group therapy, motivational interviewing, dialectical behavioral therapy, family and couples counseling, medication management, aftercare planning, and relapse prevention - among any others.

Daring this treatment process, you will also be helped to overcome the adverse effects of the abuse and neglect that you suffered during your childhood as well as deal with the psychological dependence you have developed on the substances that you were abusing.

The important thing is to realize that both childhood abuse and neglect can increase your risk for substance abuse and addiction. If you have been struggling with both of these issues - among other related and resulting problems - you should seek assistance from a professional addiction and mental health treatment and rehabilitation center.

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