Motherhood has its challenges, but it can be especially challenging when a mom is battling addiction. Mothers often struggle with addiction, a condition that causes them to compulsively seek out and consume drugs and alcohol despite the adverse effects it has on both them and their children. For many children growing up with an addicted mother exposes them to danger’s no child should experience. It also tips the scales of life management, as many moms cannot manage their addictions while being present and supportive to their children, ultimately affecting the children negatively.


An addict’s behavior may harm the physical and emotional wellbeing of her children. The following are examples of such behaviors:

  • Prenatal exposure: Addiction during pregnancy may result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Alcohol can harm a developing fetus at any stage of pregnancy, but the first trimester is especially dangerous. There is a possibility that alcohol can disrupt the development of the brain and other organs, resulting in permanent damage. Birth defects, low birth weight, developmental delays, and behavioral problems are also common when a mother abuses substances while pregnant.
  • Neglect: The lack of priority given to children’s needs by dependent mothers can lead to neglect. This can include failure to provide safe shelter, food, medical care, or supervision.
  • Driving under the influence: Addict mothers are more likely to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol, putting their children and themselves at risk of car accidents.
  • Physical abuse: Drug or alcohol addiction or emotional distress can lead to violent behavior by mothers toward their children.
    Emotional abuse: A mother’s addiction can make her irritable, unpredictable, and erratic, creating a stressful and unsafe environment for her children. The use of verbal insults, threats, or manipulation is an example of emotional abuse children may experience from an addicted mother.
  • Domestic violence: Addict mothers may be in abusive relationships, exposing their children to violence and putting them at further risk. Children may also imitate these toxic relationship cycles later in life.
  • Exposure: Ingestion or exposure to drug paraphernalia, such as needles or pipes, can result in injury or infection for children.
  • Educational effects: There is a higher rate of absenteeism and lower grades for children of addicted mothers.
  • Foster Care: Children of mothers who abuse opioids are more likely to be placed in foster care, according to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

It is crucial for children that moms with addiction issues get help. There are several resources available to help mothers manage and support their addictions. Moms can learn how to live a balanced life through drug and alcohol treatment programs and support groups. Both mothers and their children can also benefit from individual and family counseling to work through the emotional trauma caused by addiction. Regardless of where mothers are in their recovery journey, it’s critical that they remember that they are not alone and that they should never give up. When mothers receive the right support, they can overcome addiction and be the loving and nurturing parents their children need.

If you are a mom that needs help or anyone that is struggling with addiction, Scottsdale Recovery and Detox Center® provides a wide range of services to address substance abuse issues. Visit or call 1-888-NODRUGS for more information and support.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.