Prevention for Children of Addicted Parents: A Social Justice Imperative

Presented By Wendy Wade, PhD
Wendy Wade, PhD

3 Hours | 3 CEs

This on-demand professional training program on Prevention for Children of Addicted Parents: A Social Justice Imperative is presented by Wendy Wade, PhD.

This program describes the chronic stress and trauma experienced by children of parents with addiction. These children's needs are seldom recognized, and they rarely receive the help and healing they deserve. Prevention is possible by also recognizing and developing strengths and resiliencies. The program covers developing support groups and includes two activities from NACoA's Children Program Kit.

Early intervention for children of parental substance and behavioral addiction is a critical social justice and advocacy priority (Suomi). Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)s are traumatic childhood experiences causing lasting negative effects throughout life (Anda).

The brain architecture of traumatized children is affected, potentially causing the earlier onset of children’s own substance use, faster acceleration in use patterns, and a higher rate of substance use disorders (Solis et al.). Other potential effects can include emotional, social, behavioral, and attachment adjustment problems and challenging cognitive and academic functioning. COVID-19 has exacerbated these factors in many families. With appropriate intervention, children can experience trusting interactions, share difficult emotions, and develop healthy coping skills that may prevent their own use. Two group activities are detailed in the Children’s Program Kit from the National Association of Children of Addiction (NACoA) is demonstrated.

These and other targeted interventions have only been available to a fraction of children and families in need. Disproportionate access exists in families affected by poverty, parental incarceration, and all forms of discrimination (Gifford). The stigma of addiction, family rules about not talking outside the home, and children’s fear of not being believed make identification and intervention difficult. These children need a safe, predictable place to call their own with trauma-informed adults trained to recognize, support, and develop their resilience (Walker & Lee). There is hope, which depends on acceptance and understanding of the reality and depth of children’s needs along with their many strengths and resiliencies (Park & Schepp.)

Intended Audience

This on-demand professional training program is intended for mental health and other allied professionals

Experience Level

This on-demand professional training program is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.

CE / CPD Credit

APA, ASWB, CPA, NBCC Click here for state and other regional board approvals.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this program you will be able to:

Describe the social justice and advocacy priority of early intervention with children of parents with addiction

Describe traumatic adverse effects of parental addiction on children's cognitive, behavioral, physical, and social-emotional development

Describe how epigenetics of trauma and chronic unmanaged stress contribute to the potential for addiction

Describe understanding of children's resiliencies to effectively guide them in developing more effective coping skills and self-understanding to assist prevention of self-medication

Describe two activities for group or individual counseling that is specific to healing children of parents with parental addiction


Presented By

Wendy Wade, PhD

Wendy Wade, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor in the MA in Counseling Program at PAU, teaching the Addiction Counseling course, among others. She has worked with children of parents with addiction in a variety of venues beginning in 1983, including the Betty Ford Center's Children's Program. She voluntee...


1. Introduction

2. Backpack Activity

3. Addiction and Genetic Risk

4. Family Dynamics

5. Family Roles

6. Bubblegum Activity

7. Questions

8. Trauma

9. Stigma

10. What Children Want You to Know

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