How Exposure to Drugs at a Young Age Affects Children

Drugs can have a devastating impact on not only those affected but their families as well. Children of addicted parents often feel ashamed by their parents and suffer from severe embarrassment. They hear what is said by other people, and they notice the knowing looks. It can be difficult for them to cope with this life. They are also at risk of developing addictions themselves as they get older. Some are introduced to drugs and alcohol at a very young age and will inevitably struggle because of it.

Traumatic Childhood

A good example of how a traumatic childhood can affect a person is the case of Drew Barrymore. The Hollywood superstar was thrust into the limelight by her parents at a very young age. Her father John was an alcoholic, and when her parents divorced when Drew was just nine, her mother regularly began taking her to nightclubs where she was introduced to alcohol and drugs.

Struggling with an addiction to drugs and alcohol, Drew was admitted to an institution for mental health at the age of thirteen and spent a year-and-a-half at the facility. Her mother visited periodically but when Drew left at the age of fourteen, she applied to be legally separated from her parents.

The actress has now spoken out about how her erratic childhood and subsequent addiction has made her more determined that her children will have a normal childhood. She said, “I really didn’t know how to feel about my mom for so many years. It’s painful to have conflicting feelings about the woman who gave birth to you.”

Learning from Mistakes

Drew says that her views on being a mother were influenced by her experiences and that she always knew she would never repeat the mistakes her parents had made. She said, “I knew I would never do that to a kid. I would never have had children unless I was incredibly stable, and willing to put them first.”

Drew admits that her priorities have changed since having children and that they come first in her life.

How Addiction Affects Children

Drew suffered from her own addiction problems at a very young age because of her unconventional upbringing. In many instances, children of addicts will go on to develop addictions when they are older. Some have learned that drugs and alcohol are a normal way to cope with the pressures of life; and when things get tough, they will do what they know best.

Young children who do not understand what addiction is can also be affected. They do not understand why their mum or dad is angry or different to other mums and dads. They may blame themselves and feel scared, especially if their addicted parent becomes violent or aggressive while under the influence.

Children of addicted parents often become withdrawn and isolated from other children in school. They may be neglected at home and go to school in dirty clothing, which often makes them a target for bullies. As they get older, they may become embarrassed about their addicted parent and will make excuses to their friends about why they cannot visit them at home. To make things even worse, they may then feel guilty for being embarrassed or ashamed.

Children of addicts suffer physically and emotionally. They often suffer from sleep problems, upset stomachs and unexplained aches and pains. Many will develop mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, which can affect them in later life.

Getting Help

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction, contact Addiction Helper today. Our team of counsellors, therapists and support staff are here to help you get the treatments you need. We can offer free advice and support to those who need it. Call today for more information on how we can help.


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