• Scott McClure

Child Abuse and Substance Abuse—Is There a Link?



As children, kids consider parents as role models. Any disruption in this relationship with them leaves a permanent scar on young minds.


Some may move on as they grow older if the disruption isn’t consistent. However, if it’s a chain of horrible events that never ends, it may taunt them for life.


If you’re someone who grew up with parents dealing with substance abuse disorder, you know how it affected your life—not just as a kid but as an adult too.


You’re not alone to feel that way; at least one in every eight children in the U.S. live with a parent who suffers from substance addiction—whether it’s drugs or alcohol, as estimated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Another research conducted by Current Drug Abuse Reviews found that children who live around addictive adults are two times more likely to develop substance addiction themselves.


Research has also shown that these children are at a higher risk of neglect, verbal, physical, emotional, sexual abuse, as well as more likely to develop depression, anxiety and other mental health and behavioral issues.


How is child abuse linked to substance abuse later in life?


Other than the parental substance abuse, there are a number of ways child abuse or childhood trauma is associated with future substance abuse.


Problems with the Work Life


Several studies have shown the negative impacts of a traumatic childhood on the professional life when these children grow into adults. Their experiences direct affect the way they perceive and react to different situations.


Victims of child abuse find it difficult to trust people around them, i.e., colleagues or authority figures. They observe the world with their own mental filter and everything that goes against their plans seems like a threat to their stability. Inability to let go of childhood trauma associated with abuse can have negative impacts on professional life.


Difficulty in Establishing Romantic and Social Relationships


Survivors of child abuse, especially those who have suffered sexual abuse, may develop severe intimacy problems, which makes it difficult for them to establish romantic relationships or maintain them for long.


Physical abuse in childhood leads to overgeneralization of sexual identities, trust issues, low self-esteem, confidence issues, and more. All these factors make it difficult for childhood trauma sufferers to make new friends and socialize.


Eating Disorders


Teenagers and adults who had an abusive childhood are more likely to develop eating disorders—bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder (BED), and anorexia nervosa—as they grow up. Survivors of childhood trauma often have to deal with feelings of shame, guilt, lack of control, dissatisfaction with the appearance of their body.


In an attempt to cope with these negative emotions, these individual may develop eating disorders. An eating disorder may also be an expression of self-harm for having to go through a traumatic childhood.


If you are a survivor of child abuse, you have all the rights to live a better life now. Don’t let your traumatic past experiences shape your future; seek help and break free from your addiction.


Life Launch PDR is a recovery sober living home in Houston that will provide you with all the care you deserve. Contact us at 713.266.150, and tell us about your experiences. We’d be more than happy to help!

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