Alcoholism and drug addiction are rampant amongst American families. Thus, our practice is highlighting substance abuse awareness month.

 

The Facts

  • 8.3 million children in the United States, approximately 11 percent, live with at least one parent who is in need of treatment for alcohol- or drug-dependency.
  • One in four children under the age of 18 is living in a home where alcoholism or alcohol abuse is a fact of daily life.
  • Forty-three percent of adults in the US (76 million people) have had a parent, child, sibling or spouse who is or was an alcoholic.
  • 14 million Americans adults abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. Several million more adults engage in risky drinking patterns that could lead to drug addiction.
  • Approximately 53% of men and women in the United States report that one or more of their close relatives have a drinking problem.
  • In the last decade, there has been a significant increase in women’s abuse of alcohol. Potentially around the use of wine.
  • 1 in 8 Americans struggles with alcohol abuse.

The negative impacts that addiction takes on these children is significant. Children of addiction are at significantly greater risk for:

  • Mental illness or emotional problems, such as depression or anxiety;
    • Inpatient admission rates for behavioral health disorders are almost double that of other children.
  • Physical health problems
  • Learning problems, including difficulty with cognitive and verbal skills, conceptual reasoning and abstract thinking.

In addition, children whose parents abuse alcohol or drugs are:

  • Three times more likely to be verbally, physically or sexually abused.
  • Four times more likely than other children to be neglected.

Addiction also tends to run in families.

  • Children of alcoholics are four times more likely than non-children of alcoholics to develop alcoholism or other drug problems.

Supportive Adults Can Make a Difference

  • Provide your child with age-appropriate information about addiction:
    • “Alcohol/drug dependency is an illness. It is not your fault that your parent drinks too much or uses drugs, and you are not responsible for correcting it.
    • You can take care of yourself by talking with a trusted person and making healthy choices in your own life.
    • Treatment for alcohol/drug dependency is available and can be effective in getting a parent with addiction on the road to recovery.
    • You are not alone. You need and deserve services. There are safe people and places that can help you.”- http://csat.samhsa.gov/publications/youcanhelp.aspx
  • Teach children how to identify and express their feelings in healthy ways, especially by seeking out and speaking with “safe” adults.
  • Help the family member struggling with addiction find a professional who can help them get assessment and treatment in order to begin recovery.

Together we can confront the toll that addiction is taking on families. Please see our website for resource lists for children of addiction and children who are struggling with their own addiction.

– Jessica Matthews, LCSW, Behavioral Health Care Coordinator

Alcohol Anonymous for people concerned about their own drinking.
http://www.aaboston.org/
Al-Anon and Alateen for families and friends concerned with the drinking of a family member or friend.
http://ma-al-anon-alateen.org/

*This material was adapted from the following handout: http://csat.samhsa.gov/publications/youcanhelp.aspx*
*Statistics taken from SAMHSA*

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