Supporting parents with addictions

Understanding the risks associated when parents misuse drugs or alcohol

Living in a household where a parent or carer misuses substances doesn’t mean a child will experience abuse but it is a risk factor. An analysis of 175 serious case reviews from 2011-14 found that 47% of cases featured parental substance misuse.

NSPCC (Sidebottom et al. 2016)

Parents in foster placements may have a known problem with drug or alcohol misuse or this issue may come to light whilst they are in the placement. They may not have disclosed their addiction prior to the placement, fearing this will risk their child being removed or because they are in denial.

Parental drug use is very common for parents within the family justice system; almost two-thirds of drug-using women entering treatment are parents, but only half live with their children. Although parental use of drugs and alcohol often puts children at risk of significant harm, with the right support services, some parents can manage their addiction at the same time as providing good enough parenting. In fact, for some women, pregnancy provides the motivation needed to get help to come off drugs or stabilise drug use.

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