Having a parent who is addicted to drugs can be very difficult for children. Many don’t know that their parents are using drugs and simply remember the adverse effects the drugs had on their lives. Parents tend to be less active in their kids’ lives when they are drugs. This can lead to children being neglected and can take an emotional toll on them. Many people focus on the recovery of the addict and don’t realize that the children need to be cared for, as well. Roughly one in eight children live in a home with an addicted parent and knowing how to help them is important. The following guide walks you through a few ways that you can help children who have been living with an addicted parent.

Don’t Push the Point

Talking about addiction can be hard for children. Traumatic situations may have occurred that they have suppressed and bringing them up could be difficult and harmful for them to do. Some children go into a deep depression when their parent is addicted because they blame themselves for the way that their parents act when they are high.

If there is a child in your life whose parent is or was addicted to drugs, it’s important to not bring up the situations that they have been in if possible. Allow them to talk to you whenever they want, but you shouldn’t push the point with them because it could make them feel uncomfortable or like they are being attacked.

Children Need Professional Help

Children who have been around addicts need to see a professional psychiatrist right away. The addition more than likely had a very negative effect on their psyche and there is a chance that something negative could have happened to them when their parents were high. Addicts often hang out with other addicts. When people are high, they tend to do things that they would not normally do. Children who are surrounded by drug use are sometimes molested or abused. Seeing a professional psychiatrist allows them to get the help that they need and talk openly and honestly about what happened to them.

It’s important to know that a psychiatrist has a legal obligation to report any abuse to the authorities. Once it’s reported, an investigation will take place. This can be a crucial part of the healing process because it shows the children that there are people who care about them and want to do anything that they can to protect them. Children who have been abused by addicts often have a poor sense of self-worth and start to believe that they deserved the pain that they were put through. Getting professional help is the only way that they can begin to heal.

Visitation Should Wait

Many people make the mistake of thinking that children go back with parents the day that the parents get out of a detox or treatment facility. This isn’t the case. Many child protective services require for addicted parents to go through counseling, parenting classes and rehabilitation before they are even allowed to have visitation with their child. They want the parents to prove that they have overcome their addiction and can provide a safe and loving situation for their child.

If you feel that the child will not be safe if they return to the parents, you need to voice your concerns with the child protective services. They may be able to limit the parents to supervised visitations until they can prove that they have gotten their life back together. There is also a chance that the parents will have to go to court to fight to regain custody of their child, depending on the severity of the situation that they put their child in.

There Are Long Term Effects of Drug Addiction in Children

After a parent overcomes an addiction do drugs, it doesn’t’ mean that the battle is over for the children. Children who were subjected to drug abuse often have long term repercussions from the things that they experienced. Some children turn to drugs when they get older because of what they saw their parents do or because they want to numb the feelings they have or to try to erase the memories that they have. It’s important for the children to be monitored and talked to on a regular basis so that they can get the help they need before they turn to drugs. If the children do start taking drugs, it’s important to get them help for their addiction before it takes over their life.

Listen and Support the Children

It’s important to know that children often act out once they are taken from their parents regardless of why they were taken. Many children become so accustomed to the negative environment that they were in that it seems like the way that life is supposed to be for them. When they are taken out of it, it’s often difficult for them to handle. If you have a child living with you who was in a drug environment, be patient with them. Their anger, sadness or overall discomfort has nothing to do with you directly. They are trying to find their way in their new life. Listen and talk to them. Ask them what would make them more comfortable and be willing to set boundaries for them. Many people are afraid to set boundaries for kids who have been through some of the horrible things that children of addicts go through, but setting boundaries, let the kids know that someone cares about them and doesn’t want them to be hurt or get into trouble.

Addicts often become so preoccupied with getting high that they don’t realize the negative effects their addiction has on their kids. It’s important to never talk bad about the parents to the children because it can make the children resent you in the end. Simply be warm, loving and supportive so that they can become well-rounded individuals and have the best life that they can possibly have, regardless of the circumstances of their parents’ addiction.


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.