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How Addiction Affects Children

The families of addicts often suffer because of the affected person's problems. Watching a sibling, parent or spouse deal with an addiction can be traumatic and can cause relationship breakdowns. However, when children are involved the situation can become much worse. Children of addicts are often neglected, facing no structure in the home. They may suffer abuse or violence at the hands of their addicted parent, or may suffer financially.

Children of addicts could suffer in school because of their appearance. They may be neglected and malnourished and, unfortunately, become targets of bullies. Many of these children will end up in care because their parents cannot take care of them, suffering separation issues as a result. The effects of parental addiction on a child can be far-reaching and long term.

Life with an Addicted Parent

In many cases, addiction to alcohol or drugs can make a person selfish and irresponsible. While under the influence of alcohol or drugs, individuals will neglect their responsibilities and may suffer from mood swings or aggressive behaviour. Children find it difficult to understand unpredictable behaviour and may blame themselves. They will think that they are the reason their parent is acting this way, and this can have a devastating effect on them in later life. Children of addicts will often suffer from depression and anxiety and may be prone to bouts of violence.

Being the child of an addict can also affect school life. Children may begin to distance themselves from their peers because they do not want others to know about their home life. They will be afraid of inviting friends to their home in case their parent is under the influence. They will learn to lie about why their friends cannot visit their home or about why their parent does not attend any school events. This can be psychologically damaging for the child.


Many children do not understand that their parent has an illness and will not even be aware of what addiction means. They will, therefore, assume it is their fault that the parent gets angry or violent. Children who are the victims of aggression and violence may feel a great deal of sadness and become depressed. Some will even go on to self-harm. They may constantly be on edge at home, which can affect their schoolwork and relationships with others.

As these children grow older, they will begin to understand that their parent has an addiction and might begin to feel embarrassed and ashamed. Addiction of a parent is rarely spoken about with the child, and many addicts will be in denial about their problem. The child may also learn that alcohol or drugs is a way to cope with the stresses of life and may go on to develop an addiction themselves.

Effect on Schoolwork

Dealing with the problems of addiction at home can take up a lot of time for some children, especially if one child has to assume the role of parent to younger siblings. This may mean that schoolwork suffers as a result. Some children will face punishment in school for failing to finish homework and may be too embarrassed to tell teachers what is going on at home.

Getting Help

If you feel that addiction is affecting your family life, contact Rehab Helper today. We can help addicts and their families by providing support and assistance in terms of rehabilitation. We work with treatment providers all over the UK, in both the public and private sector. Getting help for addiction as soon as possible will lessen the devastating effects on children. Call today for more information.

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