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Parental Substance Abuse and the Negative Impact It Has on Children

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 1578 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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An investigative report into parental substance abuse and the negative impact it has on children in the United Kingdom




  1. Executive Summary
  1. Terms of reference
  1. Procedures
  1. Findings
  1. Conclusions
  1. Recommendations
  1. References
  1. Executive Summary

Substance misuse among parents is a major issue for many young children who are in their development stage of growing up. This report will aim to find an understanding of why parents use drugs and what the worst-case scenario would be for children if their parents have an overdose. This report will also contain a conclusion to why parents use drugs and alcohol. The contents will also show official Government statistics along with findings of substance misuse. Secondary research was conducted.


  1.  Terms of reference

Helen Evans (Communications Lecturer, Edinburgh College) instructed Zen Hayat (Scottish Wider Access Wider Programs student) to produce a schematic report to investigate parental substance abuse and the effect it has on children in the United Kingdom. The report is to be submitted on the 20th February 2019.


  1.          Procedures


3.1  Research into substance misuse among parents and it’s impact on children in the United Kingdom

3.2  Analysis of statistics to find out how many children are affected by parental overdose

  1.              Findings


4.1  The impact of substance misuse on children


4.1.1        Many children will feel unloved and emotionally abused if their parents are substance abusers, while the child is in development stages of life, difficulties can arise behaviourally, emotionally and problems with initiating and sustaining relationships with loved ones.

4.1.2        A child may take on caring responsibilities for either parents or younger siblings.

4.1.3        Regards to caring for their parents children may also gain a bad attendance record at school resulting in poor academic performance.

4.1.4        Exposure to criminal activities and may be taken away from their parents if social services or child protection services where to intervene.

4.1.5        Children may start offending themselves and increase the risk of misusing drugs or alcohol.


4.2  Why parents misuse substances


4.2.1        Parents may use substances due to different reasons, one example would be losing a close friend or relative that has impacted on his/hers life.

4.2.2        Parents may use drugs as a gateway from escaping reality, stress and even pain from daily day to day problems.

4.2.3        Adults may be pressured to misuse drugs by certain Individuals or an ex-partner, which makes the parent addicted to the substance and lose interest in supporting their own child.





4.3  Figures

4.3.1        It is estimated that around 250,000 to 300,000 young teenagers and young adults are living with drug and alcohol dependent parents, many children are at high risk of emotional and physical neglect and can damage their crucial stages of development.

4.3.2        Many young people come from poor economical backgrounds with a third coming from middle class backgrounds. Majority of victims who transition to adulthood live a happy life, continuing their education onto university or as some individuals may in habit drug using themselves and possibly consider treatment.

4.3.3        It is to be believed that around 100 young teenagers and adults phoned Childline services every week in need of support of parents who were misusing drugs and alcohol.

4.3.4        It was estimated in the years between 2017 to 2018  268,390 adults contacted drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.

4.3.5        Around 25,593 parents with a total of 46.109 children reported themselves to services for safeguarding their children while getting treatment for their misuse of substances.

  1. Conclusion

Overall this report has conducted reasons why parents of young adults and children tend to misuse drugs and alcohol and why this is problematic for today’s youth. Children are suffering of emotional and physical abuse and missing out on crucial stages of development and tend to occur problems with transitioning to adulthood. Children are even missing out on basic English and writing skills which altogether can alter the perception of the future for children or become mature at a very young age. Parents tend to misuse drugs in secret to avoid being suspected if children were to find out and inform a teacher at an education centre/school, this could leave the caring responsibility of the children to the social services and may not see there parents again if they were to continue misusing drugs and alcohol. There is evidence to support the claim that many children do suffer long term from witnessing their parents committing illegal activity in the household, with many young adults living a happy life substance free, where as others may start producing criminal activity which could impact heavily on any younger children who are in the care of parents who are substance abusers. It is believed that a reduction rate of one third of parents from 25,593 have stopped using substances and went back into caring for their children from seeking help from rehabilitation services.


  1. Recommendations
    1.  Rehabilitation and other services are available to all adults who are seeking advice and to help stop their problem with substances.

6.2  More services should be available to children who undergo caring responsibilities and to prevent them going down the same route as their parents.

6.3  Children should be allowed to move in with next of kin if the situation at home is a safety concern for the child.

6.4  Other types of methods of looking after children should be proposed other than taking children away from their substance using parents if they have caring responsibilities.

  1. References


       HEDY CLEAVER, IRA UNELL, JANE ALDGATE. (2011). CHILDREN’S NEEDS – PARENTING CAPACITY Child abuse: Parental mental illness, learning disability, substance misuse and domestic violence . Available: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/182095/DFE-00108-2011-Childrens_Needs_Parenting_Capacity.pdf. Last accessed 25th Feb 2019.

  • Emilie Smeaton. (2011). Dealing with parental substance misuse. Available: https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2011/03/11/dealing-with-parental-substance-misuse/. Last accessed 25th Feb 2019.
  • Angus Bancroft, Sarah Wilson, Sarah Cunningham-Burley, Kathryn Backett-Milburn, Hugh Masters. (2004). The effect of parental substance abuse on young people. Available: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/effect-parental-substance-abuse-young-people. Last accessed 25th Feb 2019.



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