Most States define abuse as an act or failure to act that results in non-accidental physical injury or sexual abuse of a child. Neglect can include the denial of food, shelter, supervision, clothing, or medical care. In some states, parental substance abuse alone may constitute child abuse or neglect. In others, more is required to raise it to a criminal level. In South Carolina, for example, giving birth to a drug-exposed infant is a criminal offense. California law, on the other hand, states that, “a report based on risk to a child that relates solely to the inability of the parent to provide the child with regular care due to the parent’s substance abuse shall be made only to a county welfare or probation department and not to a law enforcement agency.”
Unfit parenting can be caused both by substance abuse and underlying problems that led to it. For instance, people with anxiety, depression, past abuse, anger problems, and family conflict often turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Unfortunately, all of these conditions are also symptoms of the substance abuse itself.
There are several reasons why It can be difficult to make the decision to remove a child from his or her parent. For one, it is sometimes hard for law enforcement or social workers to determine whether a parent will ever be able to overcome their substance abuse disorder to such as degree as to become a fit parent again. This is especially problematic because relapse is so common.
Research has shown that children of parents with a substance abuse disorder are more likely to be of lower socioeconomic status and had more difficulties in academic and social settings when compared with children of sober parents. These children are also more likely to have higher rates of mental and behavioral disorders and to become substance abusers themselves later in life.
Based on data from 2009 to 2014, an annual average of 8.7 million (or 12.3 percent of) children aged 17 or younger lives in households in the United States with at least one parent who had a substance abuse disorder. An annual average of 1.5 million children aged 0 to 2 (12.8 percent of this age group), 1.4 million children aged 3 to 5 (12.1 percent of this age group), 2.8 million children aged 6 to 11 (11.8 percent of this age group), and 3 million children aged 12 to 17 (12.5 percent of this age group) lived with at least one parent who abused drugs or alcohol. Children of at least one alcoholic parent are at greater risk for depression, anxiety disorders, and problems with cognitive and verbal skills. They are also four times more likely than other children to develop symptoms of an alcohol use disorder themselves.
If you or a loved one need help to quit drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949-438-4504).