The rising rate of substance abuse across the USA and Canada is a troublesome trend, and far too often this also leads to an increase in child neglect and child abuse. A parent or caregiver who has an addiction does not always put the needs of the child first. When someone who has an addiction is withdrawing this can increase the risk of neglect or even abuse for children in the household. In the last decade there have been cases where children were seriously injured and died, sometimes after weeks or even longer of horrendous abuse that could be considered torture. Certain types of substance abuse increase the odds of physical violence, emotional abuse, and neglect more than other types. This has led many in the medical community to call for an increase in screening of adults in households where there are children.
Both child abuse and substance abuse are serious problems that need to be addressed, but in the USA many are hesitant to interfere with the parent child relationship and household dynamics. The agencies in charge of protecting children sometimes go too far, removing children from a home where substance abuse is suspected but no signs of child abuse exist, and at other times children who are clearly at a high risk for harm are left in the home with the goal of keeping a family together only to have the child end up seriously injured or even worse. If you or someone you know has a substance abuse problem don’t wait until things escalate, there is help available that can help prevent child abuse and neglect while allowing you to get your life back on track.