Child Neglect Due to Substance Abuse is On The Rise

sad looking young girl

An individual who has turned to drug use has done so because they have encountered something in their life that they feel either unable or unwilling to address and resolve. Drugs provide them with a way to escape their life, temporarily, so that they can experience some sort of relief. An individual may choose to use drugs once a week or once every few weeks—just when things are “getting hard.” However, as time moves on they may discover they are coming up with more and more reasons to use drugs more frequently.

Eventually, the individual grows to tolerate drug substances, and no longer experiences the same escape from life they once did. Additionally, drug use often creates even more problems that the individual can’t address and resolve, which drives them to desire the “relieving” effects of these substances even more. This may cause them to take even larger quantities of drug substances, or even switch to more potent drug substances, in order to stimulate the effects they desire.

There comes a point where the individual’s body will actually alter its normal patterns of functioning in order to accommodate the constant interruptions caused by drug use. This is called drug dependence and is the point at which the individual no longer has any control over their drug use. They will actually wake in the morning and feel that drugs are necessary in order for them to make it through the day. They may recognize that drugs are controlling their entire life, but they cannot abstain from their use without feeling weak, sick and tired. This is actually the sensation of poor physical health—caused by their continued drug use – but the individual cannot face it or overcome it, and they simply turn back to drugs.

An individual who is drug dependent is usually driven by one thing, and one thing only: getting and using more drugs. They will neglect their relationships and their responsibilities, and give up the very things they once cared most to protect, including their children. Drugs can so steal away and warp their thoughts and emotions that the individual if given the choice, will likely choose drugs over their children every single chance they get. Unfortunately, this means that there are many innocent children who are being horribly neglected by substance-abusing parents who are hardly fit to even care for themselves.

Substance-Abuse Related Child Neglect On The Rise

In Davidson County, North Carolina, there were more than fourteen hundred investigations of child neglect in the year 2014 alone. According to a report by Kathy Hitchcock and published by Davidson County’s Community Child Protection Team and the Child Fatality Prevention Team, more than fifty percent of these investigations involved substance abuse by the child’s parents. Hitchcock’s report indicates that child neglect due to parental substance abuse is currently on the rise. Hitchcock and her colleagues are especially concerned about the rising use of heroin, and the devastating effects drug use is having on the children of our country.

Hitchcock indicates that there are numerous instances where parents simply don’t get up to take care of their children, as well as parents who pass out in their cars with needles in their arms. Children who suffer this neglect may not only struggle with physical, mental and emotional damages as a result, they may themselves turn to drug use in order to cope. The Department of Social Services is partnering with schools, law enforcement, and medical doctors to develop community solutions in order to counter the rising instances of child neglect, but even more action may need to be taken to protect our nation’s children from the rising destruction caused by drug use.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.