Substance abuse and learning disabilities are topics that have been the subject of a lot of research and discussion lately. But did you know that the two can be linked? Keep reading to find out how substance abuse and learning disabilities are related.
How Parental Substance Abuse and Child Learning Disabilities are Linked
Growing up with a parent who regularly abuses substances can put a lot of stress and fear on a child, to the point where it can permanently affect their life. In fact, children of frequent substance abusers are at a higher risk than other children for developing a learning disability.
Some researchers believe this link exists because parents who abuse substances are less likely to be sensitive towards their children’s needs and because they may be the source of conflict in the family that causes children to internalize or externalize their feelings.
Parents can put their children at a higher risk of developing a learning disability due to substance abuse even before the child is born. Mothers who drink, smoke or abuse drugs while they’re pregnant are also putting their child at a higher risk of developing a learning disability.
Can a Child or Teen’s Substance Abuse Cause Them to Have a Learning Disability?
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Children or teens who abuse substances are putting themselves at risk of developing an addiction or mental illness. However, researchers are uncertain whether substance abuse can cause the user to develop a learning disability. One of the main reasons for this uncertainty is because doctors aren’t yet certain if learning disabilities are developed throughout childhood or if one is born with a learning disability.
Although there currently does not seem to be any clear evidence that substance abuse causes learning disorders, children and teens who are struggling with a learning disability are at a greater risk for turning to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Children and Teens With Learning Disabilities May Turn to Substance Abuse
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Recent research has found that those with learning disabilities are at a greater risk of abusing substances than their non-disabled peers. Doctors have three main theories on why this link exists.
- People with learning disorders may abuse substances due to low self-esteem, social isolation, loneliness or depression that is caused by their learning disability.
- Doctors have found that some children and teens with a learning disability turn to substance abuse as a form of self-medication to counter the negative thoughts and feelings that occur as a result of their disability.
- Studies have found that some children and teens with learning disabilities are less troubled about abusing substances than their peers since they take prescription psychoactive drugs to help manage their symptoms.
There is a strong link between substance abuse and learning disabilities, especially in regards to parental substance abuse and learning disabled children who abuse substances. If your child has a learning disability, educate them on the dangers of substance abuse to help minimize the risk of them abusing illicit drugs or alcohol.
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