Sis Wenger, NACoA President/CEO
If a child grows up with addiction, that is probably not the only risk factor in the home. ACEs or adverse childhood experiences tend to cluster; once a home environment is disordered, the risk of witnessing or experiencing emotional, physical, or sexual abuse actually rises dramatically (Anda, et al., 2006).
While addiction, with an emphasis today on opioid addiction, is very much a part of the political and public discourse, the needs of the children hurt by addiction in the family – too often with lifetime consequences – are seldom part of the conversation. The confusion, fear and helplessness present in their daily lives creates a chronic emotional trauma that is unseen and unaddressed in their homes, their schools and their faith communities. It is also too frequently ignored in the family doctor’s office.
Countless adults interact regularly with these children and neither say nor do anything to provide them clarity about their lives or how to find and connect with a safe and caring adult. This is one of the greatest public health problems in our country right in front of the people who could make a difference — if only they would learn how and then to do it. In the meantime, absence from “the conversation” continues to support this hidden human rights problem. We know what to do, but we continue to lack the will to do it, and that is Why COA Awareness Week.
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