Although there are numerous theories about drug abuse and addiction, there is no exact formula that can predict substance abuse among families. We do know that the children of addicts are eight times more likely to develop an addiction. We also know that 50-60% of addiction is due to genetic factors. However, these statistics are not foolproof and addiction is partly due to genetics and partly due to other environmental factors.
Addiction can happen in any family, whether the family is the “traditional” nuclear family or headed by a single mom or dad. Single mothers are often scrutinized in articles and studies regarding a variety of issues, including substance abuse. This article, Addicted Moms: Everyone Knows Somebody, provides some information about substance abuse in the U.S.
According to the article, an estimated one out of every four children in the USA lives with a chronic drinker. More than 10% of children live with an alcoholic parent and around 20 million people in the USA abuse drugs. The author also mentions that over the past decade the number of women aged 30 to 44 who reported abusing alcohol has doubled. Prescription drug abuse also reached a 400% increase during the same time period.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) posted a report from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which found that 3.4 million children (under 18) lived with a mother who met the criteria for substance abuse and 5.4 million children lived with a father who met the criteria. The report also found that out of 1.4 million single-mother families, about 8.4% had substance abuse issues during the year prior to being surveyed. Interestingly, the study found that about 12.8% of children living in a two parent household also had at least one parent who met criteria for substance abuse.
Numbers and statistics do not provide a complete picture and reality of a single parent household, whether the family is headed by a single mother or single father. However, the common misconceptions about single parents, especially single mothers, can be refuted by statistics and even surveys which are conducted nationwide.
Men and women who head single parent households typically have less support financially, socially, and physically when they are raising their children and substance abuse will always make the situation worse. Although the heads of households often have less disposable income, it doesn’t mean that they are immune to drug and alcohol addiction. Single mother and father households are affected by drugs and alcohol in many of the same ways that two parent households are affected.