Home > Young People > Youngest Victims Of Addiction

Youngest Victims Of Addiction

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 4 Apr 2011 | comments*Discuss
Addiction Children Youngest Family Drugs

Addictions are an enormous problem in adults. Children and teenagers, however, are sometimes the forgotten victims of addiction. They suffer the effects in numerous ways. Whether it is the consequences of living with an addicted parent or being given a medication with potential for addiction when it’s unwarranted, they are the youngest victims of addiction. It’s important for everyone – parent or not – to be aware of how young people are affected by addiction.

Young People and Prescription Medications

Prescription medications used long-term such as those for ADHD have led to concerns among educators and opinion leaders regarding safety. Millions of children under the age of eighteen have received a diagnosis of ADHD and the standard treatment is with medication. Some studies even show that the youngest child in a class is most likely to receive the diagnosis, primarily due to their emotional and social development stage rather than the condition of ADHD.

A problem with the drug used – Ritalin – is that although when used properly it’s thought to help concentration and focus, it can also be abused to give users a pleasurable high. Such abuse may come from adults or teenagers seeking it out and using it when they have not been diagnosed with ADHD. Others are diagnosed with ADHD but take more of the drug dosage. This is more common in teenagers rather than children who have their drugs dispensed by parents or teachers. There have been reports of young people who, when unable to access more Ritalin via their monitored prescription, have purchased the drug illegally to experience its effects.

Young People and Addicted Families

Addiction has many causes and perhaps similarly numerous effects. For children who live in a home where there are addicted parents, the effects are devastating. Millions of children live in an alcoholic home and suffer from a variety of consequences.

A child who has parents dealing with addiction is more likely to suffer from alcoholism or drug abuse compared to their peers. We know this to be true because alcoholism and other drug addictions have a familial thread. The effects of living in an environment of drug addiction, particularly where the parents do not fulfill a positive parenting role, compound the potential for addiction in the child.

Addiction and Family Conflict

Another issue is that where addiction is present in the home, there is a higher likelihood of family conflict. Lack of communication between parent and child and overall unhealthy parenting styles can be damaging to children. Emotional and physical abuse can occur and children can be left very isolated. In addition, children who live in a home with drug-addicted parents are much more likely to be removed from the home at some point, which further disrupts their growth and development. While their safety can improve when being placed with foster parents, they can still feel a sense of instability and have the challenge of adjusting to a new home.

Yet another problem is that children of addicted parents are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. They may show more behavioural problems at school and have difficulties with their peer group. Issues with self-esteem can lead them to try drugs and alcohol in hopes of fitting in with other children at school. Because addiction has some genetic threads, when coupled with an environment that puts children in close contact with a situation where they can try alcohol or drugs, research suggests they may be particularly vulnerable to addiction.

Overcoming Addiction

Overcoming addiction means helping parents to treat their addiction so that children can grow up safe, healthy and free from its effects. It also means understanding better the factors that lead to so many children being diagnosed with conditions, then prescribed drugs with addiction potential without properly monitoring them and ensuring treatment is correct. All young people deserve the best environment but sadly, they are far too often our youngest victims of addiction.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Hannah
    Re: Recognising Alcohol Addiciton
    Hi I drink about 2 bottles of wine a day start late afternoon until evening watch tv don’t remember much after about 7.30 then…
    9 January 2020
  • Joseph
    Re: Addiction to Shopping
    Hi, I wonder if you can help? I am slightly worried about my bills and during my constant worrying, i spend money on materialistic things…
    27 December 2019
  • Pandalove1
    Re: Recognising drug addiction.
    Hey I reaching out to you as well what can I say an addict. I’ve always done recreational drugs since I was a teen, taking pills…
    19 October 2019
  • Adrianon
    Re: How to Assess The Level of an Addiction
    My partner of 2 years drinks beer everyday. It has got to the stage where he supplements beer for food. Drinking at…
    10 August 2019
  • Kdawg
    Re: Physical Effects of Solvents
    I'm 25 turning 26 in a couple weeks, I've been on solvents for half my life on and off, I've been clean for maybe four months or…
    12 May 2019
  • tross1970
    Re: Addiction and the Law
    amphetamine has been my addiction since about 2001 although i did enjoy alcohol since the age of 13.Ii progressed from oral use to…
    25 April 2019
  • Fin
    Re: Medical Help to Beat an Addiction
    i have been struggling with a pornography addiction and it is getting too much for me now to handle and it’s starting to…
    28 December 2018
  • Debs
    Re: What is Rehabilitation?
    I have used alcohol for many years to deal with every emotion and now I try to focus and it is difficult to concentrate on finding a…
    27 December 2018
  • Micky
    Re: Addiction in the Workplace
    Hi i have a strong craving for cigarettes and dont know if i really want to quit or if i have a hard time motivating myself i take a…
    8 December 2018
  • Es76
    Re: How to Assess The Level of an Addiction
    For the last few years I find it difficult not to think about alcohol when it gets to about 6 or 7 at night and when…
    30 November 2018