Early Childhood: Were There Red Flags That Led to Drug Addiction?

Will your toddler be addicted to drugs later in life? Can you really tell what their chances are for drug addiction? What can you do to decrease the odds?

Anyone who met Anne as a teenager immediately noticed her smile, outgoing personality, and expressions of affection. What many did not realize was that she was rapidly heading down the path of drug addiction. And all the reasons that her counselor could list pointed back to Anne’s childhood.

There are factors in your child’s life right now that will influence whether or not they become addicted to drugs. How can you tell? What are those factors?

The environment parents create. When your parenting ability is affected negatively and you do not teach your child basic life skills, like good decision making, an ability to cope and conflict resolution, they are not being set up to succeed.

Parents’ or other’s use of drugs. A child is much more likely to become addicted to drugs if they see their parents using drugs. Even if the drugs you use are only gateway drugs, such as alcohol, nicotine or marijuana. Simply being exposed to your use of those drugs influences your child to be more likely to choose to use drugs.

The personality and even the gender of the child influences receptivity to drug addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that shyness, aggressiveness and rebelliousness all contribute toward a child’s likelihood of drug addiction in the future. This likelihood is increased if the child is both shy and aggressive. And increases even more if the child is male.

Also, “sensitive transitions” play a big role in influencing your child’s chances:

  • Parent’s divorce
  • Moving to a new home
  • Starting school [1]

It’s how your child meets these transitions, or other milestones, that affects their development. Whether successfully, unsuccessfully, ahead or behind schedule, it can affect their chances of drug addiction. [2]

You have the power to set your child up for success and to help them avoid drug addiction. While there are things you cannot control, like your child’s interactions at school or other people they come into contact with, there are things you can do today to make a difference.

  • Create a healthy environment. Be supportive, make your home a safe place and discipline appropriately. Help your child understand consequences. Teach life skills like decision making, coping and conflict resolution.
  • Do not use drugs. Choose healthier ways to deal with stress or to socialize. Do not be ashamed to look for help in this area. Be a role model.
  • Observe your child’s natural personality and tendencies, and give them useful tools for the way they are wired. Teach your child how to interact with others in healthy ways. Help them express emotions in appropriate ways, help them discover words to describe how they feel and help them find healthy outlets for stress, anger, loneliness, etc.

When you choose to create a healthy home environment, avoid using drugs yourself and equip your child to make choices and deal with difficult situations, you are setting them up for success. You are helping them to avoid future drug addiction.

Note: Some people are more genetically disposed to become drug addicts. After creating a healthy environment for your child, they may still go down that path. Know that you are not a failure.

Even if your child does go down the path of drug addiction later on in life, there is still hope. There are tools you can use to escape drug addiction, to avoid relapse, and there are good treatment facilities to help you through the process. Consider Covenant Hills Treatment as a place to walk with you along your journey.


If you would like to speak with a professional or learn more about healing from drug addiction, call for a free assessment at (800) 662-2873. To learn more about Pac Hills programs, including gender-specific and faith-based programs, visit https://covenanthillstreatment.com.

[1] https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2016/03/childs-first-eight-years-critical-substance-abuse-prevention

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-substance-abuse-prevention-early-childhood/chapter-1-why-early-childhood-important-to-substance-abuse-prevention

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