How is your addiction impacting your young child?

How addiction in parents affects their children

When you become addicted to substances like alcohol or drugs, then it not only has a detrimental impact on your own physical and mental health, but affects all those around you too.

Your addiction will alter the lives of your loved ones around you - spouses, children, family and friends.

What are the impacts of addiction on children?

Care is neglected

Children of parents who are abusing alcohol or drugs do not get the fundamental care they need as their parent will struggle to complete daily tasks.

Children may miss commitments as their parents are unable to drive for example.

Or their diet may be neglected, their sleep disturbed and they are prone to unpredictable behaviour.

Learn more about child nutritional needs here.

Abusive behavious

An addict can act in ways that are not normal for them, and if a child is exposed to abusive behaviour - either seeing it or experiencing it first-hand, then this can have a long-term affect on their mental health.

They may suffer from trauma or other mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, or even turn to drugs and alcohol themselves later in life.

Academic and personal life

The traumas and changing behaviours at home will have a knock on effect on the child’s academic performance which will impact their pathways later in life.

They may not be able to attend social activities, or withdraw from their social life for fear of anyone finding out about their parents.

Self-blame and guilt

Most children may begin to blame themselves for their parents’ struggling and addiction and feel guilty that they have caused their illness.

This is not true. No one should blame themselves for someone’s addiction. It is not their fault and neither is it yours.


Those who have grown up with parental addiction may have a tendency to turn to substances themselves.

If their parent has used alcohol as a coping mechanism for example, then they may also use drugs and alcohol to cope with complex emotions or experiences.

Hope is not lost

If you, your parent or someone you know is suffering from addiction, then it is important to seek professional and medical support. Read more about the programmes available.

It is vital to remember that recovery is possible. There are so many real life success stories to prove it. Read more. 

You may also like:

Look After Yourself

Mind – Mental Health Charity