Addiction can have a profound impact on a family. In addition to health-related concerns, substance abuse can impose financial stresses and cause resentment among family members – particularly children who have a parent addicted to prescription drugs.
Sadly, many cases of severe drug use often go untreated, leaving many families to struggle with the consequences and aftermath of ongoing prescription abuse. The recent opioid epidemic has caused many government and educational programs to focus their efforts on addressing severely impacted communities.
Researching the impact of local communities across the nation has highlighted an essential need for community education programs that provide family members, children, and friends dealing with support for ongoing prescription abuse. Many schools and youth programs are realizing the significant impact drugs have on youth and adolescents.
For a parent addicted to prescription drugs, there are resources available. For immediate assistance, contact AspenRidge Recovery Center directly at 855-281-5588.
Opioid Epidemic and Prescription Drug Abuse
In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies promoted opioid prescription pills to help with chronic pain and other health conditions. They reassured the medical community that these pain medications were safe to use and the probability of addiction was minimal. As a result, healthcare providers began prescribing them at alarming rates.
The increase of prescription opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both opioid and non-opioid drugs. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency. In 2019, total overdose death resulting from opioids was 70,630, and 10.1 million Americans were misusing opioid prescriptions.
Many children and adolescents experienced the impacts that resulted from this epidemic. A parent addicted to prescription drugs showed devastating consequences.
Many Ways Addiction Affects Families & Children
Spouses, children, and parents who witness a family member struggling with addiction experience emotional damage, financial, legal, medical, and other consequences.
Addiction impacts all components of a family system. It can impact children and teens especially hard. Addiction can cause conflict within a home, and the likelihood of other issues occurring such as trauma, abuse, and neglect increases ten-fold. Trust begins to erode. Relatives may become more guarded if a relative abusing illicit substances act with aggression or hide their disorder in secrecy. Marriages can end due to changes caused by addiction. Communication becomes more difficult, highlighting frustration.
Parent Abusing Prescription: Impacts on Children
According to Psychology Today, one in five children grows up in a home where a parent abuses drugs or alcohol. Witnessing the trauma of a parent suffering addiction can have long-term effects on a child. Children growing up seeing a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to develop substance use disorders in their adulthood. Additionally, they are also three times more likely to experience:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Distressing emotions
What’s more, children with a parent addicted to prescription drugs may also have learning and developmental issues, in addition to mental and emotional disorders.
Sadly, children may develop extreme guilt and self-blame for a parent’s substance abuse. They may develop feelings of unworthiness for disturbances around the home or develop dysfunctional attachments in their adulthood. In extreme cases, children can be removed from the home and placed in foster care.
Other problems that may occur due to the need to depend on a parent who is dealing with addiction include:
- Less sleep
- Lower academic performance
- Elevated stress and anxiety
- Decreased social interaction
- Increased chance of health problems
- Susceptibility to mental health illness
- Reduced overall quality of life
If a parent is battling with addiction, whether it’s prescription medications, illicit drugs, or alcohol, it’s important to find recovery options sooner.
What Challenges Does an Elementary School-Aged Child Face?
Several challenges occur for elementary school children. Elementary school often occurs around the ages of 4-10. This is a highly important period of development for all human beings.
Proper development of social skills, concrete thinking, development of a sense of safety, and belief in oneself occur during this developmental phase. Common impacts of addiction on development throughout elementary school children include:
- Less self-esteem
- Decreased social interactions
- Lower self-confidence
- Behavioral concerns
- Oppositional behaviors
What Challenges Does a Middle School-Aged Child Face?
Many middle school-aged children range from the age of 10-14. As a child grows and develops, the developmental needs change drastically at this age. Children in their early teens often find themselves creating more awareness of their surrounding relationships, causing a more susceptible and emotionally fragile time of development. Impacts on development during this time include:
- Social isolation
- Inappropriate boundaries
- Difficulty with authority
- Disrespect for rules and regulations
- Development of impulse control disorders
What Challenges Does a High School Aged Adolescent Face?
Many high school-aged adolescents range from the age of 13-18. This age range is at high risk for developing addictive behaviors themselves. The impact of addiction can grow exponentially throughout adolescents and early adulthood as children begin to develop the ability to understand abstract concepts such as politics, religion, and sex. Likewise, the potential consequences can become increasingly more severe as adolescent ages and gains more responsibilities. Common challenges that may occur during this development stage include:
- Increased risky behaviors
- Promiscuous behaviors
- Increased likelihood of developing addictive behaviors
- Poor self-image
- Higher risk of self-harm and suicidality
- Legal problems
Does Addiction Impact Children in College and Beyond?
Yes! The impact of addiction does not stop after grade school. In fact, the human brain does not stop developing until the age of 25. 25 is often well past the completion of college degrees. Since the brain is developing until young adulthood, the impacts of a parent struggling with addiction do not diminish once a child is legally an adult. Common adult problems that may occur include:
- Loss of a sense of purpose
- Unwanted pregnancies
- Unhealthy intimate relationships
- Risk of unemployment
- Severe legal problems
How Can I Tell If My Parent Is Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol?
Knowing if a parent is addicted to prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and alcohol is difficult to understand and accept.
Several signs of addiction may be present and can help determine if a parent is struggling with addiction. Common symptoms of addiction in a parent include:
- Emotionally unavailable
- Physically absent
- Frequent need to “babysit” siblings or relatives for extended periods
- Inconsistent employment
- Domestic disputes
- Unexplained financial difficulties
- Regular medical illnesses
- Mental health concerns like depression
Can AspenRidge Help My Parents?
AspenRidge provides recovery options for Coloradans suffering from prescription abuse and addiction. We provide a continuum of care that addresses issues as they surround misuse of medications by family members while providing support for children, young adults, and other close relatives. Our experienced and certified staff takes a phase-oriented approach to long-term recovery, and thorough assessments determine the level of care.
Our Recovery options for prescription addiction include the following programs:
- Partial Hospitalization Day Program (PHP)
- Day Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- Evening Intensive Outpatient Program
- Outpatient Program
Please contact AspenRidge Recovery Centers at 855-281-5588 to schedule an assessment.