How Child Abuse Relates to Substance Abuse

April 28, 2022 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Substance abuse has far-reaching consequences that can cross generational boundaries, affecting the children of substance abusers and their children as well. Because substance abuse and child abuse are often intertwined, it is important to ask the question, “How does child abuse relate to substance abuse?” Some studies estimate that 1 in 8 children are exposed to the substance abuse of a parent. This can include alcohol, controlled substances or prescription medication.

Can Substance Abuse Lead to Child Abuse?

When a parent has a substance abuse problem, it will inevitably lead to issues with parenting. Parenting is a difficult job even under the best conditions. When substance abuse is thrown in as a hurdle, healthy parenting can be impossible.

Substance abuse will cause an individual to hyper-focus on their own needs, which always means that the child’s needs will come farther down the line. This leads to neglect in varying degrees.

Substance abuse can also lead to periods of out-of-control behavior. If a child is present during one of these episodes, the child could be harmed physically as well as emotionally, considering the fear that might be felt during the episode.

Substance abuse can lead to the abuse of children in the following ways:

  • Physical
  • Neglect
  • Emotional
  • Sexual

Can Child Abuse Lead to Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse can cross-generational boundaries because of the way the abuse and neglect of a child will affect the way that a child behaves in the future as an adult and a parent themselves. It is important for us to ask what are the ways child abuse brings someone to abuse substances? Children who are abused or neglected by parents with substance abuse issues are often drawn to the same behaviors as their parents.

Children often mature into teenagers who are looking for a way to escape the pain they are experiencing at home. They have watched their parents use drugs and alcohol as their escape, and it is quite often the case that these children/teens will make the same choices. Drugs and alcohol provide an easy way to deal with stress.

Children who were the victims of abuse and neglect are also often marginalized in society because they lack the proper resources and support to excel in school and social circles. Without the underpinning of strong social groups or educational opportunities, it is easy for these children to grow into adults who find drugs and alcohol their only means of comfort and inclusion.

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