Why is drug addiction so challenging to face compared to other mental or social problems? It affects a person’s life in several manners which include health, finances, friends, family and the society that he lives in. Most children today live and grow in a family wherein parents or other members of the family are engaged in the use of prohibited substances.

The family as a basic unit of the society functions to socialize the child, guiding him or her to be a good member of the society. But what happens if the family that is supposed to be nurturing its members becomes a nursery of disturbed behavior sourced out from physical and emotional pain and struggles, thus resulting to being dysfunctional members of the society?

Drug addiction is widespread. An increasing number of children live in households where parents have problems with illicit drugs. It is alarming that a significant number of children are being raised by addicted parents. The United States Child Welfare Information considers parental drug use as child abuse. Abuse of drugs by parents has deleterious effects on the health, safety, social, emotional and behavioral well being of a child. It does not only threaten a successful Parent-Child relationship but also imposes negative outcomes at present and in the long run.

Health Risks

The impact of parental substance use disorders on a child can begin before birth. The full effects of prenatal drug exposure has been associated with premature birth, miscarriage, premature birth, learning disabilities, low birth weight and several other mental and psychological problems in the child. Children of drug-dependent parents also usually suffer injury from accidents and poisoning.

Social, Emotional, Behavioral Problems

It can be difficult to establish a causal relationship between drug use and child maltreatment. Experts agree that there is a frequently occurring correlation between child abuse and chemical dependency among parents.

Addicted parents encounter problems that put children at risk for abuse, neglect and maltreatment. This kind of parents may experience problems like impaired family functioning, mental illness, unemployment and high levels of stress that adversely affect their kids. Children are exposed to traumatic experiences that can hinder their social, emotional and behavioral development. Parental drug abuse also impairs children’s growth. It demonstrates low self-esteem, disruptive attitude, behavioral problems, depression and anxiety.

Problems on the Parent-Child Relationship

In a parent-child relationship, open communication is very important. However, for children with addicted and abusive parents, openness, transparency, trust and as well honesty is difficult to attain. Parents with drug problems lack parental nurturing and appropriate modeling. Oftentimes, children lack guidance and positive role modeling. They live in an atmosphere of stress and family conflict.

A child will fail to receive the proper parenting he or she deserves when an addictive parent cannot function due to substance use. This results in domestic violence, frequent arrests and spending more time seeking out or using prohibited drugs and spending household resources on drugs. All of these impair a successful parent-child relationship.

Long-Term Outcomes

The harmful effects of parental drug abuse don’t stop as the child reaches adulthood. He or she is likely to have difficulty with coping and establishing healthy relationships as an adult.  The child may also find it difficult to trust legitimate authority because of fear of discovery of a parent’s illegal habits.

People who were severely abused physically show symptoms of dissociation and traumatic disorder. They often resort to illicit drugs and alcohol to mitigate or decrease distress. Research suggests that people who were abused during their childhood are more likely to abuse their own children.