This is a selection of research and reports concerned primarily with the affects of parental substance misuse on children and families:

Front Cover of the Silent Voices ReportSilent Voices - Supporting children and young people affected by parental alcohol misuse

Silent Voices is a new report published by the Children's Commissioner highlighting the extent of this largely hidden problem; many children affected by parental alcohol misuse never come to the notice of children's social care services.

The report contains powerful messages from children drawing attention to their voices and what they say about how parental alcohol misuse impacts on their lives. Alongside the full report is a briefing containing the key themes and findings from the report.

Published by The Children's Commisioner, 10 September 2012.

Silent Voices - Supporting children and young people affected by parental alcohol misuse - Full Report

Silent Voices - A briefing on the key themes and findings from the report 



Over-the-limite-report-coverOver the limit: The truth about families and alcohol  

The report 'Over the limit' by 4Children with research conducted by ComRes highlights the concerning level of alcohol and drug use amongst parents in Britain and the damaging impact this can have on children and families.  They have found that 17% of parents maintained their intake of alcohol upon discovering they were pregnant, including 5% of mothers. After the birth of their first child, 23% of parents continued to drink as much as before their baby was born, and 17% say they increased the amount they consumed - which 4Children estimate exposes 280,000 babies to potential harm each year. Furthermore, 82% of adults in Great Britain admitted to have drunk alcohol in the past year of whom 7% drink everyday, with almost four times as many of the wealthiest households drinking everyday in comparison to the poorest households.

The impact on children and families includes prenatal effects on the foetus, ability to parent is compromised, children's social, physical and educational development is delayed or undermined, family relationships suffer, children's living circumstances substantially deteriorate and at its most extreme can lead to deaths, injuries and child maltreatment. Moving forward 4Children recommend the government should revise its alcohol and drug strategy to put families at the heart of a new approach and ensure reducing the harm caused by alcohol and drugs is a top priority for policy making and service delivery.

The report 'Over the limit' was published by 4Children in October 2012.

SCIE logoSCIE research briefing 6: Parenting capacity and substance misuse

This briefing document was published in April 2004 and updated August 2005. The topic of this briefing is how parenting capacity can be affected by parental substance misuse (drugs and/or alcohol) and how this may be managed.

Key messages:

  • Substance misuse may adversely affect the ability of parents to attend to the emotional, physical and developmental needs of their chidlren in the short and long term
  • Various policy and practice documents are available governing the provision of services to support parents who misuse substances
  • Research has tended to focus principally on substance misusing mothers rather than fathers, and drugs rather than alcohol
  • Studies often fail to evaluate the impact of substance misuse on parenting capacity relative to other aspects of disadvantage, such as poverty, unemployment or depression

think-family-pathfinders-front-coverThink family pathfinders: Research update

The Department for Education describes this document as:

'Children experiencing very poor outcomes often come from families who face multiple and complex problems, such as poverty, domestic abuse, poor mental health or substance misuse.

'Co-ordinated, multi-agency interventions can be a cost-effective way of improving outcomes for both the children and adults within these families, whilst reducing the burdens they may place on a number of local services and, potentially, the care system.

'The emerging findings of this programme provide practical examples of how local authorities from across the country are restructuring service provision and developing new working practices in response to the challenges of improving outcomes for these families.'

Read Think family pathfinders: Research update.