As a person with children undergoes substance abuse treatment, parenting obligations do not stop. When hearing of such a journey, many questions and considerations go through one’s head. The challenges multiply when both parents have addiction issues and when there are numerous children in the household.
Much research exists about parents entering treatment, but studies from the child’s perspective are not as common. The fact remains that children of parents with mental or physical illnesses experience reduced quality of life (QOL), usually temporarily, but sometimes the effects last a lifetime.
Quality of Life for Children With Parents of Addiction
A child’s reality is what they know and learn from their space in this world. Consequently, some children must grow up with a poor quality of life that they do not realize is such. As a child grows, their world expands, and they realize their life has been unusually difficult. The rest of their lives may be spent chasing dreams without the confidence, core values, and beliefs found in a child with a better quality of life. Sadly, some kids struggle with mental health issues and substance use disorders as teenagers and adults.
Studies show that children living with a parent of addiction are negatively influenced by the stress and rigors of duties and responsibilities with which they are burdened. The family role redistribution forces many to care for their siblings and affected parents, resulting in undue struggle and imbalance. School attendance and performance may decline, as well as their ability to make friends and progress toward their goals. Depression and other mental health disorders are common among these children.
Effects of Substance Use Disorder on Families
We all depend on our families; we celebrate with them during the good times and stand with them during difficult times. They represent our home base and a source of security, socializing, and solace. When one of us succumbs to a substance use disorder, the family’s dynamic changes, and its impact can be substantial. We are each affected in our unique way by the family member’s overuse of substances. Some of us may incur financial hardship trying to help the individual or experience stress-related mental health issues. Furthermore, our propensity to develop SUD increases, and the chances also include the possibility of children developing a substance use disorder.
Prolonged and severe substance abuse can pull families apart. Endless accounts exist of family separation, incarceration, financial ruin, child abuse, child neglect, crime, and health problems because of substance use. Kids take a portion of the struggle, and the short and long-term toll on them is alarming. SUDs have negative effects on the emotions and behaviors of adults and children.
Helpful Sources for Families and Kids
The picture painted above seems bleak and unforgiving. However, the good news is there are helpful resources to assist families and children. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a wealth of information to assist families affected by substance abuse. One such source is a collection of valuable research and knowledge for SUD treatment and family therapy.
If you are a Veteran, you probably already know about the numerous benefits associated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. You will find veteran sources to help with treatment, recovery, relapse, families, and other mental health concerns.
SoCal Mental Health treats substance use disorders and facilitates a Family Program that involves the whole family. Healing comes from a supportive environment, and help and support are provided for the whole family to foster healing.
Children’s Needs Must Not Be Neglected
Nothing tugs at the heartstrings more than seeing a child suffer. Physical suffering in children is apparent, and assistance is usually swift. However, when a child is struggling with stress, depression, and emotional turmoil, the pain is not always detected right away. Mental health issues in children can live inside them for years, clouding their happiness and hopes for a bright future.
As parents, we tune into our children, their problems, and their needs and do everything we can to improve things. Parents struggling with substance abuse, treatment, or recovery have a monumental battle themselves. No matter how much they love their kids, facing the insurmountable challenges of addiction and parenting is hard. In an ideal situation, family members and friends will somewhat lighten the parenting burden while the individual is in treatment and recovery.
We do not live in a perfect world; addiction happens. With that said, we are responsible for our children’s upbringing and well-being. If you are a parent juggling recovery from substance abuse while trying to raise your kids, your struggles are real, but there is help for you and your family. Speak with a trusted loved one, a counselor, a therapist, a doctor, or a professional at your treatment center about your concerns. Many people and agencies are ready to help you and your beautiful family.
At SoCal Mental Health, our commitment to you is for your overall well-being. Our dedication to treating mental health challenges and addiction is a priority we take very seriously. When a person has children, their obligations do not stop during treatment and recovery. We understand, and our addiction treatment and mental health programs are designed for your individual needs. We create the most effective plans for each person, taking the people they most care about into consideration. Know that we can help. Our professional staff is here to meet your needs for mental health, substance abuse, recovery, and relapse. You never need to go through this alone. Call us at (888) 312-0219 for help.