Protecting Children in Drug Abusing Families

Protecting children in drug abusing families requires a multifaceted approach. Most of the parents who abuse drugs and drink alcohol do so in moderation. As such, they do not put the lives of their children in dangerous.

However, when substance abuse becomes harmful and gets out of hand, it can prevent parents from taking good care of their children or providing them with a safe environment in which to grow. This is why it is important to protect children who grow up in drug abusing families.

Understanding Drug Abuse

Drug abuse refers to the use of any illicit substances - such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. It can also refer to the misuse of prescription and over the counter medications like opioid pain relief drugs. in most cases, it is termed as abuse because of the dependence and harm that it causes.

When you engage in substance abuse, you can put yourself and others around you in danger. Further, you might continue drinking alcohol and taking drugs even when it leads to such negative consequences as physical accidents, psychological problems, and illnesses.

If you are dependent on substances, you will require these intoxicating drugs to be able to function normal. You would also continue using them even when they cause you to suffer negative financial, health, and social problems.

Children and Substance Abuse

But how does drug abuse affect children? The fact that a child lives in a household where the parents abuse drugs and drink alcohol does not necessarily mean that they will be at risk or suffer any negative consequences. Even so, this form of substance abuse can increase the risk that these negative consequences will arise.

When parents abuse drugs and drink alcohol excessively, they can affect their children - irrespective of the stage in life at which the children have reached. During pregnancy, for instance, parental substance abuse can increase the risk that the unborn children will suffer from premature birth, birth defects, prenatal withdrawal syndrome, and being born excessively underweight.

In the same way, parents who have a substance use disorder could increase the risk that their children - irrespective of how old they are - could suffer from the following additional problems:

Protecting Children

It can be difficult to protect children in drug abusing families. This is because there are many factors to consider and things to keep in mind before getting these children to open up as well as showing them how to protect themselves and seek help.

However, there are some tips that can help professionals, neighbors, parents, and any figures in authority get children to understand what is happening, as well as protecting them from the adverse effects of familial substance abuse. These tips include:

1. Keep Calm

While talking about substance abuse, it is important to keep calm. This is even though it is difficult to bring up the subject of drug and alcohol abuse. however, you need to keep in mind that these children have already gone through a lot. To this end, shouting at them or being angry will only reduce the chances that they will understand the message that you are trying to convey.

Instead, it is recommended that you talk to them about the subject as calmly as possible. You should also do so during a period of time when you - as well as the children in question - are sufficiently relaxed. This will encourage them to talk more openly without being secretive.

2. Encourage Conversation

In the same way, it is important that you encourage the child to be as honest as possible. You should ask them about what has been going on in their lives, the experiences that they have when they are at home, and if they are against the fact that there is someone at home abusing drugs and drinking alcohol excessively.

It is also essential that you also try and find out the reasons why they have been feeling sad or showing any negative emotions. This is because growing up in an environment where substance abuse is rampant can cause children to experience adverse effects and consequences. By listening to what they are saying and how they have been feeling, you might be able to know how you might be able to be of help.

3. Discuss the Risks

It is recommended that you talk to children in drug abusing families about the negative effects and consequences of drugs and alcohol. this way, they will be in a better position to understand that talking about the problems that they witness at home can be resolved much easier. You should also discuss the risks that come with substance abuse. In the process, they will understand that these substances can:

If you are not yet confident about your knowledge on drugs, you should familiarize yourself with all the drugs that the people in the child's family have been taking. This way, it will be easier for you to discuss the risks of these drugs with the child.

Children, Drugs in Families, and Future Substance Abuse

Research studies show that children who grow up in drug abusing families have a high risk of engaging in substance abuse later on in their lives. They might start during their teens or later on in their adulthood.

To this end, one of the step in protecting children in drug abusing families would involve reducing the risk that these children will engage in similar substance use patterns in the future.

Luckily, substance use disorders are diseases that you can protect these children from. If you are a non-drug using parent, for instance, you should realize that you have a good opportunity to influence their behavior positively so that they do not abuse drugs later on.

That said, people abuse drugs and drink alcohol excessively for a variety of reasons. Among children who grow up in drug abusing families, this form of substance abuse could be as a result of the environment in which they grew up, their social influences, peer pressure, experimentation, and curiosity.

To this end, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the risk factors that could cause these children to develop substance use problems in the future. Examples of these risk factors for addiction include:

a) Family History

Children who grow up in families with histories of substance abuse and addiction have a high risk of becoming addicts themselves. The link can be social, environmental, or genetic.

b) Mental Illness

When children live in families with people who abuse drugs and alcohol, they might develop mental health disorders. This could be because of the trauma that they experienced as a result of being abused by intoxicated parents and siblings or because of the violence that they witnessed in the home environment.

Since these children will be struggling with mental illnesses, they might try to relieve the symptoms of their conditions by turning to addictive substances. This form of self-medication will only increase their risk of addiction.

To this end, one of the steps in protecting children in drug abusing families is to ensure that they get the help that they need to overcome their mental health disorders. This could be from a therapist or counselor.

c) Stress

One of the main problems that comes with growing up in a drug abusing environment is the development of stress. This stress can be emotional, physical, psychological, or even financial.

For instance, drug using parents might not have enough money to provide basic necessities for their children. On the other hand, they might turn aggressive and violent while intoxicated on their favorite substances of abuse - this could cause emotional and psychological abuse.

Eventually, this stress could lead the children down the road to new patterns of substance abuse and addiction. This is because they would be trying to self-medicate the symptoms of stress.

The Influence of Parental Attitudes and Actions

Research studies show that children who grow up surrounded by friends and family members who abuse drugs often end up abusing these substances later on in their lives. This goes to show the importance of role models in the lives of children.

Perhaps one of the greatest influences on children is parental behavior. If substance abuse is going on in the house, it is important to realize that you as a parent can provide a positive influence on your children to ensure that they do not end up struggling with similar patterns of drug taking in the future. It is also important to keep in mind that your behavior around your children will provide them with a moral guide on how they should behave.

For instance, if you continuously tell your children that drinking alcohol is bad but you then take three glasses of wine every night, this will only send mixed messages to them. You need to match your words with your actions to ensure that your children take you seriously.

Some of the ways in which you can be a positive role model to protect children in your drug abusing family include:

1. Deal with Stress

It is normal to be stressed out from time to time. It could be as a result of having a difficult day at work or encountering problems that you have a difficult time resolving. Instead of turning to alcohol and drugs while stressed, you should consider finding other ways to relax and unwind. You could, for instance, take up sports or go jogging in the evenings.

This will send the right message to your children. If you cope with stress by turning to alcohol and drugs, your children will end up doing the same when they get their own houses. On the other hand, if you engage in productive and healthy activities to alleviate stress, they are also likely to model their behavior after yours during their adulthood.

2. Get Help for Substance Abuse

If you are dealing with drug and alcohol abuse and are worried that your children will struggle with similar issues in the future, you should consider putting a stop to your substance abuse and addiction.

For instance, if you do not want them to smoke cigarettes in the future but you are struggling with a tobacco cessation problem, consider checking into an addiction treatment facility to get the professional help that will help you stop smoking.

3. Drink Responsibly

Alcohol is a legal drug and it can be difficult to stop drinking given how it is commonly accepted in most social situations. Even so, you should not let your drinking give rise to an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism.

Especially when you are at home or around your children, it is recommended that you only drink when you know that you can do so responsibly. You should also try to not let your children see you in an inebriated state. This is because if they witness this, they might start thinking that excessive drinking is the right way to consume alcohol.

4. Discuss Irresponsible Behavior

While listening to music or watching TV shows and films with your children, you might witness a character who abuses alcohol and drugs. alternatively, there might be someone in the family who has been struggling with a substance abuse problem.

In all of these situations, you should talk to your children and let them know that this behavior is irresponsible and it can lead to negative consequences. You can also discuss these consequences with them especially if they are happening in the home environment.

Getting Help

Finally, one of the strategies for protecting children in drug abusing families is to ensure that all the people who are struggling with substance abuse and addiction within the family get the help that they need to overcome their growing addiction. This way, they will be able to recover fully so that your children are no longer at risk of suffering as a result of the ongoing substance abuse.

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