Parental Addiction: 6 Ways to Help a Child Cope with a Parent Who is Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

Parental addiction can affect children in detrimental ways. Neglect, abuse, academic difficulties, low self-esteem, behavioral problems and drug and alcohol addiction are just some examples of the devastating issues these children face. There are ways, however, you can help a child cope with a parent who suffers with addiction.

  1. Don’t hide the addiction. Children understand much more than we give them credit for so be honest. Let the child know that his/her parent’s addiction is an illness. Also, if he/she has any questions, answer them honestly. Make sure your explanation is age-appropriate for the child.
  2. Let children know it’s not their fault. Children tend to blame themselves for their parent’s addiction. Reassure them that the addiction has nothing to do with anything they have said or done.
  3. Be a positive role model. Children look for guidance from the adults in their lives. In many cases, due to the addiction, the child’s parent was not able to provide the kind of love and guidance he/she needed. That’s why it’s important for the child to have positive role models in his/her life. Even one role model can make a difference.
  4. Encourage the child to express how he or she feels. For many children of addicted parents, the addiction was kept a family secret so they didn’t have many healthy outlets to express their feelings. Let them know that it is okay to talk about how they feel.
  5. Provide a stable, loving environment for the child. The home environment may have lacked stability due to the addiction, and in some cases, the child may have ended up being the caretaker for the addicted parent. Providing stability in a loving household, one in which the child is allowed to just be a child, can be quite beneficial.
  6. Psychotherapy is also a good option. Therapy can provide a safe space in which children can express how they feel, both verbally and through play therapy. A therapist can also provide a child with effective tools to help him/her cope.

Children are stronger than we think and can be quite resilient, especially if they are given the love and support they need from a caring adult. If you know a child whose parent is suffering with addiction, we can help. Give us a call at (954) 832-3602. We are located in Hollywood, Florida.

Alicia Emamdee is the author of the YA Romance novel, “Aloha Self-Esteem?” which is created specifically for teen girls and the challenges they face with regards to their self-esteem in our society today. Written as a love story, the book provides ways to help increase self-esteem and gain self-confidence.



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