Parenting Under the Influence
If you are abusing drugs and/or alcohol you probably already know the risks you’re taking with your own health and wellbeing. But what about the risks to your child? Even if you aren’t using drugs and/or alcohol around your children you are probably putting them at risk.
Of course, I’m not talking about the casual glass of wine or a beer on Friday night. I’m talking about true addiction and substance abuse. There’s probably a fine line between problem behavior and normal use but I’ll leave that for you to decide.
Fred Wulczyn wrote an impressive Journal Article on Preventing Child Maltreatment. The following paragraph especially stands out to me.
Substance-abusing parents are more likely to struggle with co-occurring problems such as domestic violence, single parenthood, poor education, depression, and the need for cash assistance, all of which influence the propensity to maltreat in one way or another. When parents abuse substances, they pay less attention to their children and may not seek medical care for them when needed. Parents are less likely to be warm and responsive to their children, which affects attachment. Substance-abusing parents are also more likely to use harsh parenting styles and leave children unsupervised. Over their lifetime, children of substance-abusing parents experience more separation from their parents.
Substance Abuse and Bonding
As you can see from the paragraph above, substance abuse can directly affect your ability to bond with your children. If you are ready for your next fix and you’ve got to slow down to help your child learn to tie their shoe, can you control your temper? How are you attending to your children’s needs first if you are lying in bed trying to break the cycle?
“When mothers or fathers abuse substances after delivery, their ability to bond with their child—so important during the early stages of life—may be weakened. In order for an attachment to form, it is necessary that caregivers pay attention to and notice their children’s attempts to communicate. “
You might not realize it but parenting under the influence will dull your ability to pick up on your kids’ cues. In case you were wondering, children who are neglected or who haven’t formed secure attachments with their primary caregivers may:
- Become more mistrustful of others and may be less willing to learn from adults
- Have difficulty understanding the emotions of others, regulating their own emotions, or forming and maintaining relationships with others
- Have a limited ability to feel remorse or empathy, which may mean that they could hurt others without feeling their actions were wrong
- Demonstrate a lack of confidence or social skills that could hinder them from being successful in school, work, and relationships
- Demonstrate impaired social cognition, which is awareness of oneself in relation to others as well as of others’ emotions. Impaired social cognition can lead a person to view many social interactions as stressful.
Is it possible that you love your children and know that you need help but aren’t sure where to get it? Your first step was reading this article, your second step could be as simple as clicking over to Advanced Health and Education for some help.
The Effects of Parental Substance Abuse on Children
“Children who experience either prenatal or postnatal drug exposure are at risk for a range of emotional, academic, and developmental problems. For example, they are more likely to:
- Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Suffer from psychiatric disorders
- Exhibit behavior problems
- Score lower on school achievement tests
- Demonstrate other difficulties in school.”
Substance Abuse Rehabilitation
If you think that you may have a substance abuse problem I implore you to visit Advanced Health and Education’s site for advice on your next steps.
Advanced Health and Education is a drug and alcohol addiction counseling center located in Eatontown, New Jersey. Their team of addiction specialists has been helping people achieve sobriety and live fuller, more meaningful lives for over 40 years. They are there to help guide you through the recovery process, offering affordable treatment options from intervention through counseling and aftercare.
They can direct you to a number of online resources as well as provide information on location specific Substance Abuse Rehabilitation centers including Cherry Hill NJ alcohol rehab, Edison NJ drug rehab, South Orange NJ alcohol rehab, NJ drug rehab, NJ alcohol rehab center, NJ alcohol rehab and NJ drug rehab center.
Please, if you are parenting under the influence get the help – if not for yourself, for your children!
 Fred Wulczyn, “Epidemiological Perspectives on Maltreatment Prevention,” Journal Issue: Preventing Child Maltreatmen,t Volume 19 Number 2 Fall 2009. Accessed July 30, 2014, http://futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=71&articleid=511§ionid=3482.
 Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children’s Bureau., ICF International. “Protecting Children in Families Affected by Substance Use Disorders.” US Dept. of Health and Human Services – Child Welfare Information Gateway, (2009). Accessed July 30, 2014, https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/substanceuse/chapterthree.cfm#childhood.