The Corruption of Rational Thought: When Addiction Becomes Child Abuse
Although most addicts would hate to hurt their children in any way, the sad fact is that many of the behaviors a child experiences from an adult due to their addiction amount to child abuse. Child abuse is defined as any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caregiver, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
The dark side of active addiction couldn’t get any darker when child abuse becomes the norm in a household. Everyone knows that drugs and alcohol directly influence a parent’s rational thought, and sometimes, the influence can bring out violence and aggression in people. Tragically, that aggression can come out as physical, mental, and sexual abuse toward the child, if not by the parent, by other addicts that come into their household. When this becomes a norm in the family dynamic, PTSD can haunt children from youth to adulthood, often encouraging them to abuse substances to cope when they get older.
Thus, the abuse or neglect of your child in any way due to your addiction, the emotional harm that you put them through, makes you guilty and should be the push you need to get help.
What Can Be Done?
If you know someone who is an addict and has children or a family with an addict, help is available. You can break the cycle by encouraging the addict to get help, staging an intervention, or letting the family know about local clinics and family therapy.
If it affects you personally, don’t be afraid to talk to a psychotherapist or mental health specialist about how it is making you feel or affecting your life overall. There are local children and family centers that you can support that offer children a safe space to go when their homes aren’t stable. Support these in any way you can, whether financial or donating books, clothes, old electronics, etc.
Of course, suppose you have grown up with a parent suffering from addiction. In that case, you are more susceptible to being an addict yourself, so pay attention to any signs that you may be developing a dependency on any substance, whether it is alcohol, pain medication, or even something that you do recreationally. If you see the signs early, don’t let denial creep in, and speak to a professional before you start affecting other people that are close to you, so that you can break the cycle.