When Parents Abuse Drugs, Kids Need Treatment Too | health and fitness

The news media often report on the risks of medical problems and death associated with substance use. Medical complications experienced by family members of people struggling with substance use are reported less often.

Addiction is a chronic mental illness. Addictions to alcohol, opioids, methamphetamine, cocaine and other substances kill thousands of Americans each year and affect millions of lives. Dependence on alcohol, substances, or impulse disorders can also impact the lives and health of children, other family members, and friends of people with substance abuse or emotional disorders. impulses.

Seven million young Americans under the age of 18 live with parental alcoholism, according to the Children of Alcoholics Foundation. Every day, these children have to deal with emotional turmoil, stress, erratic and irrational behavior and often physical and psychological pain. Their health suffers from stress and often from abuse and neglect.

Some of these children were permanently harmed when their mothers drank during pregnancy. Research over the past decade has shown that children from alcoholic families experience more physical, emotional and mental health problems than other young people.

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Negative childhood experiences increase the risk of long-term health problems. Children who experience trauma, such as living with someone with substance use disorders, are at higher risk for health problems as children and are also at higher risk for health problems as adults . The many possible health consequences include high blood pressure, headaches, stomach problems, problems with weight loss or gain, panic, depression, diabetes, stroke, seizures heart disease and suicidal ideation.

Also in our society, the person who abuses substances is generally perceived as “the one who has a problem” and the one who needs help. Treatment has helped many people begin and sustain addiction recovery and support long-term sobriety.

Those who love the person in difficulty will also benefit from health care. Research shows a positive impact on the whole family when even one family member begins to make changes in self-care, whether their loved one accepts or receives help.

The families and friends of those who love people struggling with substances or impulse disorders also struggle and are often marginalized or invisible.

Family members and people struggling with substance use may benefit from exploring a combination of medical care, counseling, and self-help group exploration. These services have the potential to dramatically improve health and life. Some people only take advantage of medical services. Others may choose medical services associated with counseling. Maximum benefit has been reported when individuals explore access to all three types of care.

An online search can help you find information about local meetings of reputable self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Alateen, Narcotics Anonymous, and Celebrate Recovery, among others.

The first step to healing the family is recognizing that substance use impacts loved ones as well as the person using it.

Karen Wilcox, licensed professional counselor at the RiverStone Health Clinic, can be reached at 406-247-3350.

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