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Parents with drug problems: how treatment helps families

Not all parents with drug problems cause harm to their children, but substance misuse can reduce their ability to provide practical and emotional care. It can have serious consequences for children, including neglect, educational problems, emotional difficulties, abuse, and the possibility of becoming drug and alcohol misusers themselves. It can also cause young people to become carers of addicted parents.

However, substance misuse is rarely the sole cause of family difficulties. It is usually part of a complex web of coexisting problems that include poverty, social exclusion, poor mental health and unemployment, which can’t easily be disentangled from the substance misuse. Many parents with serious drug problems no longer live with their children (who are normally in the care of other family members or the local authority) and some are reluctant to enter treatment.

This report publishes data from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) about parents and adults living with children. The aim is to highlight the problems of parental substance misuse and to improve understanding of how it affects families.