Addiction and substance abuse are tremendous problems that affect the entire family – including the youngest members. Addiction happens in the best of families and no family is immune.
The number of children affected by addiction is staggering: consider that in the United States, two babies are born to addicted parents every second of every day. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), estimates that one-quarter of American children grow up in homes where substance abuse is present.
Kids who grow up in addicted homes are twice as likely to develop their own addictive disorders. They are also more likely to experience problems at school, low self-esteem, behavioral and emotional problems, depression, anxiety and stress-related physical illnesses.
Kids often turn to a relative, family friend, caring neighbor, or other trusted adult who has expressed concern about the child’s situation. The good news is that one stable, caring adult can make a significant difference in the trajectory of a child’s life.
How Adults can Help
If you’re worried about a child growing up in an addicted home, you don’t need to be a professional counselor or an expert on addiction. In fact, you don’t need any special skills at all; you just need to care. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to a child. Many people hesitate to approach a child about addiction in the family for fear of making things worse, but remember: there’s a good chance you can make the child’s life much better.
- Take time to learn a few basic facts about addiction. Knowledge will help you understand what’s happening in the child’s home.