Mental Health and Drug Addiction

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Updated: Jun 20, 2022
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Drug abuse. Those two words almost seem to common to the ears these days. Drug abuse according to the National Cancer Institute is “the illegal use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for purpose other than those for which they meant to be used, or in large amounts.” This is a very real issue in our world today and is extremely prevelant in many young child’s lives. Children are the future of America. We were all children at one point in our lives.

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How they are nurtured and what they are exposed to early on is so crucial in their development and how they will go about the rest of their lives. This paper will heavily focus on some factors that lead to child drug abuse, why it is so important for these children to be treated and if treatment is readily accessible for these children.

What a child is exposed to early on is so vital in how they will develop early on. Children who are exposed to drugs early on in their lives are usually exposed by their parents use of drugs. According to the article, Link Between Child Abuse and Substance Abuse, “Children of parents with substance abuse issues are at greater risk for abuse or neglect” (Kaliszewski 2019). Meaning emotional abuse or physical abuse or sexual abuse. Any sort of abuse tends to lead to trauma in a child’s life later on. Typically, if a child is exposed to neglect or any sort of abuse, this tends to leave a lasting impact and can lead to serious trauma throughout the child’s lives. These children tend to struggle with “difficulties with concentration and learning, control their physical and emotional responses to stress, and form trusting relationships” (Kaliszewski 2019). Since these kids have since only learned that their parents combat these sorts of stressors with drugs, these children tend to lean on drugs as well to help combat the stressors they are feeling as well. To follow these hardships in these child’s lives, if never treated early substance abuse tends to lead to the “likelihood that these adults will perpetrate child abuse through the abuse of their own children” (Kaliszewski 2019). This statement just further enhances how big of an impact abuse early on can lead to continued issues throughout a child’s life and into their adolescent years.

If children are in environments where drugs are easily accessed, then this can create all the more reason for them to partake in drug use. Some families are partaking in in “the manufacture of methamphetamines in home-based laboratories” (Child Welfare Information Gateway 2016). This content is extremely alarming because if children are exposed to in home laboratories not only do they have easier access and can seriously damage their health but also, they are constantly watching how it is being made. Therefore, it is fair to say if a child watches over time how to manufacture this drug that they themselves would know how to do it themselves one day. Thankfully, multiple states have taken action on this issue and have furthered defined the “definition of child abuse or neglect to include this concern” (Child Welfare Information Gateway 2016). A great example being that “20 states the manufacture or possession of methamphetamine in the presence of a child” (Child Welfare Information Gateway 2016). Hopefully this sort of regulation will help slow down the production inside a home with a child. In any home, a child is dependent upon their guardian whether that is their biological parent or grandparent, hypothetically whoever is raising the children. Children are extremely vulnerable at a young age due to wanting to succeed and please their authorities. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that “a child’s first few years of life play a huge role in later life decisions” (NIDA 2016). The research further elaborates that environment is so crucial in a child’s development of life decisions. Well, if the guardian is partaking in drug use then how would the child ever know it was wrong if that is all they ever knew? This is why environments are pivotal in a child’s life decisions.

Thankfully we live in a time where there are treatments available for situations like drug addictions. However, the question is are they readily available and accessible to everyone equally? In 2016, Joe Davidson wrote a really interesting article on the opioid crisis and how not many youths receive help and specifically youths of color. Joe received a master’s from the University of Michigan in public policy. He writes for the Washing Post and heavily focuses on federal government issues. Mr. Davidson specifically focuses on the opioid addiction in this article but there are some alarming statistics listed. There is a huge crisis in the states that pertains to “the issue is how few children and youths who abuse drugs, including opioids, get the help they need” (Davidson 2019). This could be due to the fact that youths do not feel that help is accessible, that they would be turned away or they just don’t report it. Either way this is a major concern. An interesting statistic in the article shows that in “2016 16.1 percent white youths received treatment, compared to 16.7 percent in 2002 (Andra,Wilkinson and Winslow 2019). The article then further states that “just 9.5 percent of youth of color who abused pain relievers received treatment in 2016-a 4.3 percentage point drop from 2002” (Andra, Wilkinson and Winslow 2019). This is so concerning for our children and this gap is not tolerable whatsoever. It is believed that people don’t always get help because they do not feel there are enough resources out there for them to reach out to.

Treatment is so crucial for our children. These children are helpless and if they do not know anything else, then how can we place the blame on them? Some interesting points were made in a chart made by National Institute on Drug Abuse. The chart states a variety of interesting facts on treatment. One of them is “treatment does not always need to be voluntary to be effective” (NIDA 2019). So often, I don’t think we want to force anyone into doing something that is not on their own will. I believe this is valid, however someone who is addicted to drugs may not be able to fully comprehend or even comprehend at all that they need professional help. If we are to be our brother’s keeper, then we ought to help one another out even if it is tough. Especially our children. It is also fair to say that if someone is struggling with drug addiction that drugs may not be the only health issue. Often “mental health disorders” are apart of a drug addiction (NIDA 2019). This can just make it that much harder for someone to figure out on their own that they need help.

Waco Center for Youth can be an incredible resource for children who are struggling with drug addiction. The center is a public rehabilitation center that is located in Waco, Texas. The center specifically work in helping with the treatment of mental health illnesses. Some examples might be, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders and more. Each of these illnesses can be very closely linked to drug use because of not having an understanding of how to cope with these illnesses. The center actively works to help ensure that children can be helped and guided in the right direction. There are a variety of payment options for the center as well. Such as meidcaid, private insurance, self-pay options, financial aid, financing available and sliding scale payment assistance.

The center offers a variety of care levels for patients. Inpatient is an incredible treatment that is offered here at Waco Center for Youth. This type of care consist of a program where the patient is housed and fed meals. In particular they are offered substance abuse treatment which is awesome. To have a patient in this environment really allows themselves to fully submerge and be present in helping themselves. They are able to take a break from their daily lives to ensure that they can be fully healthy and healed from their addiction. This type of care is offered short term, a couple of days to a couple of weeks, or a long term care, multiple months of treatment. This is such an awesome option for patients who are needing help and can really get the patient going in the right direction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, often referred to as CBT is an option for patients to really focus on the tie between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This is an extremely good tactic for clients who struggle with substance abuse because this allows them to stop and really think about what they are feeling instead of turning to drugs. Due to research, CBT has been proven to be extremely effective and promotes self-efficacy. Having a high self-efficacy can really help promote growth and allow patients to consult in others and think through how they are feeling before turning to drugs instead. Promoting a high self-efficacy at a young age can be extremely beneficial and have long lasting effects.

Experiential therapy is another program offered at Waco Center for Youth. This type of therapy allows patients to encounter “real life” issues and work through them. Instead of clients going through traditional talk to talk therapy, this therapy uses physical body movements to counteract their emotions. In experiential therapy, role-play is extremely common and allows the patient to better understand their trauma and fully process it. This can lead to long lasting healing. This can be effective for young children in that they would be prepared to counteract the future temptation to lapse when they feel stressed.

Group Therapy and Individual Therapy are other great options provided. Group therapy would allow the client to be involved in a support group that meets typically weekly to discuss their struggles and how they are combating them daily. This allows the patient to see they are not alone and have people to confide in and grow with. Individual therapy is when the patient meets one-on-one with a professional psychologist or a counselor. This was stated as an extremely important part of facing addiction. Why? This allows the patient to see where they struggle and what challenges they may be facing daily through their environments.

Lastly, there is trauma therapy. Earlier in the paper it was stated that trauma is often a main reason why children turn to drugs. They feel it is the only way to combat the stress they are under. Trauma therapy really enhances the past life experience’s that the patient experienced and allows them to really face those events face to face. The best way to move forward from trauma is to overcome it by recognizing it and move through it one step at a time. This is exactly what trauma therapy is and this is done through the help of professionals who are trained in this area and can also be compassionate towards the patient’s experience.

It is extremely evident that child drug use is very serious. This is not a situation that is presented in only way and only has one factor. There are so many ways for children to constantly be faced with these adversities. These children deserve a chance and deserve to receive help regardless of age, color or background. The good news in all of this is that these children can be treated and can be healed. We just need to ensure that we are providing the children with the right resources and making them readily available to each child. Thankfully there are great resources for these children and to help them continue to combat these adversities throughout the remainder of life. Together we can really make a difference in these child’s lives and help permit drug addiction in these lives in the long run.

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Mental Health And Drug Addiction. (2022, Jun 20). Retrieved from