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Mon, Oct. 14

Parents' substance abuse has lasting impact on kids

During a presentation to a local church group recently, most audience members were not surprised when told that West Yavapai Guidance Clinic has more than 1,200 children enrolled for services. Some, however, were baffled by that large figure. There are many child clients at the clinic who need the temporary guidance of a therapist as they deal with the loss of a parent, or perhaps the challenges of being adopted into a new family. Other kids have symptoms of depression or anxiety-driven compulsions that require the expertise of a child psychiatrist. And others have been raised by parents with substance abuse issues, meaning that there may be a complex range of issues to address from the children's emotional health to their physical well-being.

Did you know that almost 12 percent of children under the age of 18 live with at least one parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol or an illicit drug during the past year? This is according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

"The research increasingly shows that children growing up in homes with alcohol- and drug-abusing parents suffer, often greatly," said a SAMHSA administrator. "The chronic emotional stress in such an environment can damage their social and emotional development and permanently impede healthy brain development, often resulting in mental and physical health problems across the lifespan."

Among the findings:

• Almost 7.3 million children lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol.

• About 2.1 million children lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused illicit drugs.

Findings for this study ("Children Living with Substance-Dependent or Substance-Abusing Parents: 2002 to 2007") are drawn from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual nationwide survey of persons aged 12 and older. This report focused on questions asked of 87,656 parents aged 18 and older about their substance dependence and abuse.

For more information on this study, go to www.samhsa.gov.

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