What if parents are using?
More than 1 in 10 children under the age of 18 live with a substance-dependent or substance-abusing parent. Children of addicted parents often have a very limited social life. The lack of a social life is one void that mentors are ideally suited to help fill.
Start a Dialog
- Make a special effort to be a good, reliable source of support
- Look for opportunities to help expand their social life
- Stress that you will keep what they tell you confidential, unless a life is in danger
- Reassure them that they're not to blame for their parent’s substance abuse
- Be sensitive to mood changes that may signal some worsening issues
- Help them develop ways to express anger and frustration
- Help them find coping skills (e.g.: listening to music, having someone to call, getting homework done at school…)
What to Avoid
Don’t go it alone. Seek help for serious issues involving abuse, violence and/or suicide.
Look for Warning Signs
- Because of the stigma surrounding drug abuse, children of addicted parents have a very limited social life
- They refuse to invite outsiders (you, friends) to their home
- High levels of dysfunctional behavior in the family: fighting, domestic violence and divorce
- Family responsibilities are “reassigned,” and children often have to assume adult roles to compensate for the inadequacies of the addicted parent
- Lying is common as the family strives to keep the addiction hidden and cope with shame
- Tendency for kids to blame themselves or feel responsible for the addicted parent’s behavior
- Kids become socially isolated to prevent others from finding out about the addicted parent
The Bigger Picture
Families of addicts live with a constant fear of something bad happening—a car accident, arrest, or loss of a job. This pervasive anxiety is related to the unpredictable behavior of the addict. Also, be alert to the possibility of child abuse, including sexual abuse. Such offenses often occur when a parent is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
From The Blog
How Amachi serves the needs of children of incarcerated parents
About 10.7 million U.S. children ages eighteen and under have at least one parent who is under some form of supervision by the criminal justice system. More than 1.7 million of these children have a parent who is incarcerated in a federal or state prison or a local jail.
Alcoholism and other drug addiction have genetic and environmental causes. Both have serious consequences for children who live in homes where parents are involved. More than 28 million Americans are children of alcoholics; nearly 11 million are under the age of 18. This figure is magnified by the countless number of others who are affected by parents who are impaired by other psychoactive drugs. http://www.nacoa.net/pdfs/addicted.pdf