When a person suffers from addiction, every member of their family feels the harmful effects of the disease. They watch their loved one slowly lose the ability to control their behavior, they see the symptoms of withdrawal and they sense changes in family roles.
While every member of the family feels the effects of addiction, children often feel the most traumatic effects. That’s because their brains and bodies are still developing, and they’re heavily influenced by their parent’s behavior.
Many children learn substance abuse behavior from their parents and go on to suffer from drug or alcohol addiction later in life. The cycle of addiction can stop. Fathers can make a positive impact in their children’s lives.
How a Father Can Be a Positive Influence in a Home Affected by Addiction
Despite their best efforts, no one can control an addict’s behavior. Fathers can avoid enabling destructive behavior, love his children, and protect them from the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Provide Shelter and Safety
Safety is the top priority for children living with an addict. A father must ensure his children have a safe place in the home to eat, sleep, and live.
Open and honest communication is vital. Fathers can’t hide a person’s addiction, but they can talk to their children to help them make sense of the issue. More importantly, fathers must be a positive role model.
Be the “Bad” Guy
Fathers might have to be the “bad” guy. That means setting strict rules against alcohol and drug use. It means forbidding children to go to any high-risk social events, and it may include keeping them away from the addict.
Learn about Your Children’s Friends
A father must know his children’s friends’ attitudes on drugs and limit their access to friends who use drugs. Talking to the parents of their children’s friends about anti-drug messages can also prevent drug use.
Promote Healthy Activity
Children who are busy with school, sports, healthy hobbies, and other extracurricular activities don’t have time to do drugs.
How a Father Can Get Help if He Is Suffering From Addiction
When anyone — including a father — suffers from addiction, the drug slowly becomes the most important thing in their life. They must take a hard look at themselves and decide what efforts they will take to recover from addiction.
Make Your Children Your Top Priority
Children must be a father’s top priority. That means putting their safety and health before his own. He must avoid exposing his children to his alcohol or drug use and consider relocating until he can stay sober.
It’s impossible to hide addiction and its effects. Fathers should be honest about their struggles with age-appropriate conversations. They should acknowledge the impact addiction has on the family and avoid making empty promises.
Learn about Drug Abuse
You can’t fight what you don’t know. Fathers should learn as much as they can about addiction and the effects of drugs and alcohol.
Addicts need help. Free support groups, 12-step programs and peer-run organizations are available. Fathers should consider going to a rehabilitation or treatment facility for professional help.
For more information about fatherhood and addiction, read our previous post Embracing Fatherhood Within Addiction Recovery.
Chris Elkins is a writer and researcher for DrugRehab.com. He has five years of professional writing experience and has been covering health-related topics for more than one year. He has a master’s degree in strategic communication and leadership with a certificate in health communication leadership.
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (2015, July 25). Ten Tips for Prevention for Parents.
- Sack, D. (2013, April 2). How to Talk to a Child About a Parent’s Addiction. The Huffington Post.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2009). Protecting Children in Families Affected by Substance Use Disorders.
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