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How can substance abuse be a factor of child abuse?

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Drug or alcohol abuse greatly compromises a parent’s ability to effectively care for a child and is associated with an increased risk of both child physical and sexual abuse, reports the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Substance abuse also causes a parent to abuse a child by neglecting him.

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Drug and alcohol use undermines a parent’s ability to interact normally with his child and causes him to emotionally withdraw and behave irrationally towards his child, explains the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Research has found that sexual abuse is more prevalent in families living in a home environment characterized by chaos, dysfunction, and poor communication between family members.

Parental drug or alcohol abuse increases the risk for domestic violence to occur in a family, resulting in a child being exposed to emotional and physical trauma, according to the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Children who witness violence in the home are at an increased risk for post-traumatic stress syndrome. Parental substance abuse can also predispose a child to developing stress-related health problems such as headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, asthma or migraines.

A child may suffer from abuse due to neglect if a parent’s use of alcohol or drugs interferes with the receipt of proper health care, such as immunizations or regular care, reports the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. A parent’s negligence involving the failure to provide protection from danger also increases the risk for a child to get injured in a preventable accident.

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