Indicator 8: Drug/Alcohol Affected Families
Almost one in five adult Americans (18%) lives with an alcoholic while growing
up and 76 million Americans, about 43% of the U.S. adult population, have been
exposed to alcoholism in the family (National Association for Children of Alcoholics).
In addition, data reflect that school students who did not feel secure at home
or who felt that their parents approved of drug use were more likely to use
drugs (Liang, L. and Maxwell, J., 1999). State surveys have recorded that children
from broken homes in 64 Texas school districts were one-and-a-half to two times
more likely to have tried alcohol, inhalants or marijuana (Liang, L. and Wallisch,
In 1994, it was estimated that three American children die from abuse or neglect
each day. Currently, the estimate has increased to at least five children a
day (Howard, 2000). Nationally, the number of reported child abuse cases has
doubled from 1.4 million in 1986 to more than 3 million in 1996.
Child maltreatment poses an increasing threat to children around the
country and in Travis County. Over 70 percent of these reported cases
involved substance abuse. Substance abuse and poverty have been identified
as the primary risk factors contributing to abuse and neglect. The
National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse found substance abuse to
be identified in 81 percent of the cases where families reported child
abuse (National Association for Children of Alcoholics).
In 1994, it is estimated that in
America three children die from abuse or neglect each day. Currently,
the estimate has increased to at least five children a day.
-U.S. Department of Health and
In addition, at least 50 percent of the substantiated cases of child abuse
and neglect report substance abuse was a factor. Parents who abuse substances
are almost three times more likely to abuse their children and almost four
times more likely to neglect them than other parents (Howard, 2000).
Figure 8-20 identifies Travis County as having the highest rate of confirmed
child victims of abuse/neglect cases out of the seven largest child populated
areas in the state. The Community Action Network's assessment, Public Safety,
Crime Prevention, & Victimization reports that "according to the Texas Department
of Protective and Regulatory Services (TDPRS), in 1998, an estimated 27,830
children in Travis County, or one in every six or seven children, were considered
by TDPRS to be at risk for child abuse and/or neglect" (CAN, 2000).
The threat of substance abuse upon our children is evident in the number
of deaths and confirmed abuse and neglect cases. Profiles of parents that
substances and maltreat their children report consistent problems. Education,
employment, involvement in the welfare system, history of childhood abuse
or neglect are all significant factors. In addition, recent studies have
and confirmed that children of alcoholics have "an altered brain chemistry
that make them more likely to become alcoholics themselves" (Howard, 2000).
An overwhelming majority (70%) of women receiving alcohol treatment have reported
that they had experienced "some form of childhood sexual abuse" (Howard, 2000).
It was concluded, "childhood abuse itself contributes uniquely to the genesis
of substance abuse disorders " and vice versa (Howard, 2000).
There are an increasing number of children entering the foster care system.
Substance abuse has been identified as one of the top two problems identified
by state protective services (National Association for Children of Alcoholics).
It is reported that of all the children being placed in foster care, a majority
(sixty-two percent) of the referred cases cited alcohol or drug use as a factor
(Substance Abuse Planning Partnership, 1997).
Unborn, Infants, and Children
A growing number of infants are suffering from chemical dependencies,
an unfortunate legacy from parents addicted to drugs. For example,
it is estimated that about 5.5 percent of U.S. women or 221,000 have
used an illicit drug while pregnant (Journal of the American Medical
Association, l998, September)
Approximately 39,768 women in Travis
County have used illicit drugs while pregnant.
This would equate to approximately 39,768 women in Travis County. Alcohol
use during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), the primary
preventable cause of mental retardation. Alcohol and drug use and abuse also
contribute to premature births and low birth weights.
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