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Unspeakable educational damage caused by addicted parents

Education Matters

Jayne Matthews Hopson | 9/6/2013, 9:02 a.m.
Marijuana Courtesy Drug Enforcement Administration

"Children of substance abusers may be the victims of physical violence or incest. They may also witness violence— frequently alcohol and other drug abuse goes hand in hand with domestic violence."

COSA believes that children exposed to this level of violence are at risk for post-traumatic stress syndrome and may face “the same kinds of sleep disturbances, flashbacks, anxiety and depression that are associated with victims of war crimes.”

Furthermore, "parental substance abuse interrupts a child’s normal development, which places these youngsters at higher risk for emotional, physical and mental health problems.

Because parents who abuse alcohol or other drugs are more likely to be involved with domestic violence, divorce, unemployment, mental illness and legal problems, their ability to parent effectively is severely compromised," diminishing their capacity to be effective advocates for their child's education.

"There is a higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide attempts among [the children of drug abusers] than among their peers. In addition, these students are three to four times more likely than others to become addicted to alcohol or other drugs themselves."

These are all significant barriers to academic success.

Next week: Academic consequences and recommendations

Jayne Matthew Hopson writes about education because "only the educated are free.