Parental Drug Addiction & Impact on Children Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :


Impact of parental drug use

Neurobiological causes of drug addiction

Social support to victims of parental drug addiction

Child needs during treatment of parental drug addiction

Impact of parental drug use

Barnard and McKeganey (2004) investigated the impact that parental drug use created on their children and ways and means that can be helpful in mitigating these effects. The study was aimed at reviewing the literature on this subject. The researchers adopted 'narrative review' as the qualitative method to review the research on this subject. Intervention studies were selected for this purpose and studies published in last three decades were made part of this study sample. The authors reported some insightful findings. Primarily, the study found that problem drug use did impede the parenting ability and responsibility of parents that were drug addicts. The study found that such parents used to neglect their children and care was often provided by extended family members, acquaintances, and social service. Another set of negative impacts of problem drug use were being inconsistent, emotionally unresponsive, and not being warm with their children. Specifically, the cocaine addict mothers were emotionally disengaged with their children compared to the non-addict mothers. Depression and anxiousness were the two negative outcomes that children with drug addicted parents (single parent or both) had later in their lives. Psychotic disorder and major depression in children was also caused by drug dependent parents. The children born to drug addicted parents were left to symptoms such as hyperactivity, aggression, impulsiveness, and inattention.

It is evident from the findings of this research that there are several negative consequences of parental drug addiction on children of these addicted parents. There are several emotional problems being created for infants and young children of addicted parents. In this literature review, we will later include an article by Erickson and Wilcox (2001) in which neurobiological causes of drug addiction have been investigated. It is safe to state that the likelihood of these neurobiological affects occurring in children of addicts is higher and thus there is an increased risk of children of addicts also becoming addicts and this vicious circle of 'cause and effect' carries itself through generations.

To further substantiate our hypothesis, we now review a study by Peleg-Oren and Teichman (2006) in which authors have reviewed the scientific literature on children having parents having substance use disorder (SUD). Ten published studies were taken for review. The researchers described the investigation as being critical for understanding impact of parents having SUD on their children. Parents of school-aged children were studied for this investigative research. An important aspect of this study was that all the studies selected for review was based on scientific research settings, having controlled and non-controlled groups of study participants. Validity and reliability of research instruments was ensured. The main aspects of childcare that were assessed included the elements such as protective factors, mental health, psychological outcomes, and consequences.

The authors used Medline, Social Work Abstracts, and PsychLit databases used to obtain the published scientific studies. Only ten published studies were included as the sources of data collection. The major findings of this study included that parents with SUD pose an increased threat and risk of negative outcomes on their children. The study reported that the negative effects of such parents include emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral consequences for the children. The study found, on the basis of reviewed ten publications, that families with parents having SUD have inconsistent behavioral and interpersonal standards. The intellectual function of children of parents with SUD was also found to be weak. The study also found that presence of social support systems/networks helps children of drug and alcohol addicts the chance to defy the adversarial circumstances and make progress in their social and professional lives. When findings by Peleg-Oren and Teichman (2006) and Barnard and McKeganey (2004) are synthesized and read together, the evidence further gains strength that, since children are exposed to several harmful impacts, there might appear some neurobiological changes in their minds that facilitate those children becoming addicts in their adolescence.

2.2 Neurobiological causes of drug addiction

Erickson and Wilcox (2001) explored the role of neurobiological and molecular genetics in making persons substance dependent. In this context, the researchers studied that what caused the willful substance dependence in addicts. The authors also studied the pathological chemical dependence and observed that although having different causes compared to willful substance dependence, the former too had 'devastating' consequences. The primary outcome of this research is the presentation of a research-based model to treat the causes of chemical or substance dependence and synthesizing this information Twelve Step Treatment programs. The researchers aimed to demystify the causes of substance dependence and observed that stigma, prejudice, and misunderstanding (SPAM) causes informed analysis regarding substance abuse. The authors also explained their main aim of the research as providing crucial answers to common questions such as the definition of addiction, how the addiction takes place, and why the treatments work. The drug addicts are defined to be persons that have impaired use of drugs. The research findings suggested that addiction is caused by malfunction of dopamine flow in the body and this may be caused by genetically disordered hormones in human body.

We have discussed in first section of this literature review that since children are continuously exposed to the harms of parental drug addiction, the likelihood of children also becoming addicts increases. Continuous exposure to harm may impair their dopamine regulation due to their parents also being addicts (genetically inherited proneness to addiction).

2.3 Social support to victims of parental drug addiction

Barnard (2003) investigated the role of relatives in protecting children from drug addicted parents. The study aimed to explore the role that extended family members play in caring for children of drug addicted parents. The study also explored the factors that were responsible for limiting the role of extended family members in providing care to these children. This qualitative study collected data from drug addict parents. The method of study was qualitative and used semi-structured interviews of 62 parents, of which 58 were women. 23 participants were drawn from methadone clinics, homeless hostels, and rehab centers. 18 respondents' use of drugs was uncontrolled. The researcher used NVIVO software as data analysis tool.

The researcher reported that heroine was the drug predominantly used by the respondents mixing it other some illicit and prescribed drugs. The main findings of this study were that parents acknowledged the negative impacts of their drug dependency on their children. The overwhelming nature of drug dependency made these parents become oblivious of child care responsibilities. It was also found that children of drug addicted parents stayed at the place of relatives for an extended period of time spanning even months. Extended family members ensured, in most cases being investigated, that safety, care, and interests of children are ensured. 58% of the respondent parents reported having parents that were alcohol abusive. A negative impact of childcare by extended family was that parents of such children continued spending money on drugs and did not attend to their parental responsibilities.

2.4 Child needs during treatment of parental drug addiction

Gruenert, Ratnam and Tsantefski (2006) evaluated the needs of children whose parents undergo drug treatment interventions. The hypothesis developed by the researchers was that children might need some psychological follow-up support while their parents are treated for drugs addiction by drug and alcohol workers. The study was performed in Melbourne, Australia and the researchers selected children of 48 drug addict parents being treated at different residential rehabilitation, outpatient counseling, and pharmacotherapy programs in Australia. The study was part of a large research on intervention and prevention research for treating drug-dependent parents. Children from the age of 4-13 were selected as study participants of whose psychological-screening assessment…

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