If you are a parent who struggles is addicted to opiate drugs, you may wonder if you should try to kick the habit on your own for the sake of your family. Because opiate drugs—whether heroin or opiate painkillers—change your brain chemistry, it is always best to get help as soon as possible. Quitting “cold turkey” on your own can often lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. While it is understandable that you do not want to leave your family to seek treatment, children need parents that are not participants in substance abuse. Here are some more details to consider about your situation.
When to Get Help for Addiction
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that addiction to opiate drugs is a chronic disease. Since drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. A person with an addiction is consumed with behavior that supports the addiction. While the decision to take a substance might have been voluntary at first, the change an addictive substance makes in the brain destroys normal brain function. A person may find herself unable to stop taking a substance or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when she stops taking the drug.
In many cases, it can be difficult for a parent to admit he or she has an addiction to opiate drugs. The following signs indicate a person has a problem with drugs or alcohol:
- Intense feeling to use drugs on a regular basis
- Random urges to take a drug
- More drugs are needed to get the desired effect
- You keep a regular supply of the drug
- Large amounts of money are spent on the drug
- Inability to meet work obligations due to drug use
- Avoidance of social or recreational activities due to drug use
- Participation in risky behavior that not normal such as stealing
Parents who are addicted are more likely to lose control of emotions. For example, he or she may have an angry outburst or become very sad unexpectedly. These individuals are also more likely to neglect their family responsibilities. For example, an addicted parent may not have food in the house, oversee that the kids are bathed regularly and other daily responsibilities.
Ways Addiction Affects Young Children
When a parent struggles with addiction, this has a great impact on their life, and all lives around them—especially their children. Children need both stability and effective routines in order to thrive. All too often, an entire family’s schedule is disrupted when a parent or caregiver suffers with addiction. More than 35 million children in the United States are affected by a parent’s addiction. A parent who abuses alcohol or other drugs is more likely to experience or be involved with domestic violence, divorce, unemployment, mental illness and legal problems. All of these outcomes severely compromise the stability of a home environment, and this also increases the chance young children in the home will have problems.
Children of parents with addiction are three to four times more likely to develop an addiction than their peers. Not all children who live with an addicted parent will experience long-term problems, but the potential is there. If a sober parent in the household ensures there is a stable environment and enjoyable family routines, such as Friday pizza night, there is a greater chance children will have enough stability and loving contact.
Young children in particular may be confused about the way alcohol or a substance affects a person’s behavior. In some cases, a child with an addicted parent also may believe the parent’s erratic behavior is his fault. The child may even try to take on adult responsibilities to keep the household running while doing poorly at school and withdrawing from friendships.
For those who have substance abuse problems with drugs, it is almost always ideal to seek treatment. It’s also important for a poor-performing family to correct dysfunctional aspects. Family members should communicate with each other in a direct and clear manner. For example, when a child comes home late from a party, a parent could say, “It makes me angry and scares me when you are late,” instead of arguing with another parent about the child’s behavior. Parents should also use age-appropriate methods of discipline and incorporate a consistent strategy as part of parenting duties.
Need Help Finding Addiction Treatment?
Addiction is a chronic disease that requires day-to-day management. When an individual suffers with addiction, it’s important he or she gets help in order to take the best care of the family. True recovery brings on lifestyle change. The most effective addiction treatments coach a person on healthy coping skills, including parenting skills, which go a long way to ensure long-term success.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, please call our toll-free helpline. Our professionally trained counselors will be glad to answer your questions and help you move forward. Don’t wait to find help. Call us today, and get started on a healthy, sober lifestyle. We treat addictions with a philosophy that addresses the whole person—mind, body and soul. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reach out today.
 https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science Addiction Science
 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/basics/symptoms/con-20020970 Drug Addiction
 http://www.centeronaddiction.org/newsroom/press-releases/2005-family-matters-substance-abuse-and-american-family Family Matters: Substance Abuse and The American Family