Police recently arrested a mother in Iowa City, Iowa for drug abuse after they discovered that one of her children was playing with a crack cocaine rock. The sad situation came to a head when one of the children called 911. The police came to the home and the mother confessed that she had previously left the children unattended.

While they were speaking with the mother, officers noticed that a child in the home was playing with a piece of crack cocaine, which the mother admitted to keeping in her bedroom.

As sad as this story may be, there are many parents throughout the country that expose their children to illegal substances, especially if those parents are drug abusers themselves.

Drug Abuse and Parenting

Regardless of whether parents are addicted to cocaine, meth or other types of substances, there’s a good chance that they are endangering their children whenever they use drugs. Drug-addicted mothers who are pregnant put their fetuses at risk for numerous problems throughout their lives, including:

  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth
  • Decreased head circumference
  • Behavioral problems
  • Poor academic achievement

After a child is born, parents who are abusing drugs often have a hard time bonding with their children and picking up on any cues that a child needs attention or help. Addicted parents may also spend most of their time and efforts trying to secure more drugs, which often means that their children are neglected and left unattended.

Negative Effects on Children

From a child’s perspective, there numerous pitfalls and negative aspects that come along with being raised by a drug-addicted parent. Young children may suffer from more accidents after parents leave them in unsupervised situations. They may also engage in a higher number of risky activities because many drug-addicted parents don’t adequately enforce rules in the home.

As children gets older and realize that their parents aren’t taking care of them or their siblings, they may start take on the role of household caregiver. Unfortunately, it’s not healthy for children to accept so much responsibility and this burden can lead to:

  • Persistent anxiety
  • Poor academic performance
  • Anger later in life
  • Difficulty forming normal relationships

Drug Abuse and Social Skills

Older children may also become embarrassed about their parents’ problems and their family’s situation, causing them to avoid developing friendships and relationships with other children. This avoidance can severely damage a child’s social skills and lead to general unhappiness.

Perhaps most troubling is the fact that children and adolescents who see their parents using drugs are more likely to engage in drug use themselves. Not only do children learn how to acquire and take these drugs, but they may start to view drug use as an acceptable method of coping with sadness and stress.

Being the child of a drug abuser comes along with a variety of serious risks and dangers, so it’s essential for parents to seek out treatment options as soon as possible in order to give their children better chances at achieving normal development.