How Substance Misuse Affects Children

Last Updated: Thursday, April 16, 2020

little boy sitting on the floor covering his faceIn a span of 12 months, more than 94,000 children were removed from their home because at least one parent had a drug abuse issue.


What is child abuse? 

Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child.

There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation and emotional abuse.  For additional info, visit and the CDC website,


Parental/caregiver Opioid and Other Substance Misuse Can Have a Devastating Impact on Children 

Parents’ substance use may affect their ability to consistently prioritize the child’s basic physical and emotional needs over their own need for substances. 

The parent/caregiver substance use disorder and the possible violent and erratic behavior that may be associated, place the child at higher risk of being abused or neglected.

The early trauma exposure makes children more likely to suffer mental health disorders including substance abuse and post- traumatic stress disorder later on in their lives.


If you suspect a child may need help, call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD or 1-800-422-4453.




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