The Effects Of Substance Abuse On Children And Families

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The damage radius of addiction far exceeds what we might expect it to. The ones that are addicted can have people that they are responsible for.

They have people who they love and love them.

Addiction affects everyone around you, and most of all your children.

There is a special type of hell that kids and families go through where addiction has taken hold.

Here is the shocking reality of what substance abuse does to your children:

Effects of Substance Abuse during Pregnancy

The first of a series of serious implications any type of substance abuse can have on your children is the horrific side effects that they suffer due to their mother abusing drugs or alcohol while pregnant.

These side effects, if they survive the pregnancy at all can be permanent, life-altering and grueling.


If you’re thinking that occasional substance abuse/use or certain types of substances aren’t that bad, think again.

Even a single glass of wine can affect an unborn baby.

In fact, alcohol can affect a baby from the point where the egg has just been fertilized. If a man drinks heavily or regularly his sperm can carry the effects of alcohol to the newly fertilized egg, which is the very last thing you want.

No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy and after the 12th week, alcohol use can severely affect the child’s brain causing cognitive and behavioral difficulties, mental illness and other gnarly health conditions.

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Illegal Drugs

The most common risks of illegal drugs such as Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin, PCP, LSD, and Methamphetamine are nothing short of horrifying; oxygen deprivation, low birth weight, brain damage, intracranial bleeding, cardiac issues, premature birth, the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth and(unfortunately) much more.

That does not include the risk to the mother (and consequently the baby)

There’s no shortage of negative side effects of illegal drugs, we’ll discuss those later on, but the chance of overdose is a very real and serious risk to both mother and child.

Post Birth Effects

Babies born to addicts that actually receive proper health care, as in they are born in a hospital or under medical supervision, are, believe it or not, the luckier ones.

Many babies in this situation cannot actually survive the stress of birth and being born.

But a baby that has survived the toxicity of a pregnancy of an addict, and the trauma of birth are born addicted themselves.

Soon after the baby is born they will experience tremors, muscle tightening (like angst), excessive crying, vomiting and/or diarrhea, these are all signs of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – essentially withdrawal.

Other probable health issues could be cardiac problems, underdeveloped brain, and lungs.

Often medical intervention is necessary to help babies to survive withdrawal and to help counteract the damage of the pregnancy, although sadly, that isn’t always possible.

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Childhood & Family Life

If left untreated, addiction can and will destroy your family.

If only the physical risk to children and mother were the only problem.

Here are some more ways addiction can affect your kids and family:

Toxic Home Life

The homes of addicts don’t always look like some natural disaster swept through there, it can, but that’s not always the case.

It can be a regular home, in a normal neighborhood but that doesn’t make the effects of addiction any less devastating.

Abuse and neglect are a reality for many families that have been taken over by addiction.

Apart from the trauma and horror such circumstances bring there are lasting mental effects like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and a series of mental and emotional issues that will forever shape your child’s being.

This could become a generational curse, and who knows where that will end.

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Developmental gaps and Learning difficulties

Let’s for just a second, set aside the fact that drug use can literally shrink your child’s brain in the womb, think about this – for the first 6 years your child’s mind is like a sponge, that means everything that is going on around him will be imprinted in their psyche, for the rest of his/ her life.

That means that every single emotion he/she experiences due to your actions will become a part of who he is.

The next serious issue with a child’s development is with them not receiving the proper care, attention, and stimulation to actually facilitate that development.

Furthermore, the emotional and mental stress that addiction brings into little ones lives also play a massive role in how your child responds to learning later in life.


The vicious cycle

The mental, emotional and physical trauma that a life of addiction imprints on a child makes them so much more susceptible to drug and alcohol use and abuse as a coping mechanism.

The children of addicts, who do not receive treatment and therapy, will likely be unable to cope with the demands of a normal life.

When the children of addicts become addicts, we enter a cycle that is as catastrophic as an EP5 tornado, it wipes out everything it comes in contact with.

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Is There Hope?

Yes. There is hope.

If you are willing to make the most difficult change in your life for your kids and the people you love, there is definitely hope.

No matter how bleak your situation may seem, the time to start towards a positive change is now. Right now.

There are dedicated centers that specialize in helping people overcome addiction and staying clean for life.

Recovery Centers of America, for example, have 24-hour support and they are just a phone call away.