We have selected the following documents as what we believe to be key documents relating to parental substance misuse.

Hidden Harm

The first Hidden Harm report, Hidden Harm: Responding to the needs of children of problem drug users, was the result of an inquiry by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). It was published in 2003.

As the Home Office writes: This report sets out the findings of an inquiry carried out by the Advisory Council, focusing on children in the UK with a parent, parents or other guardian whose drug use has serious negative consequences for themselves and those around them.

The report sets out 48 recommendations and the following 6 key messages:

  1. There are between 250,000 and 350,000 children of problem drug users in the UK - about 1 child for every problem drug user.
  2. Parental problem drug use causes serious harm to children at every age from conception to adulthood.
  3. Reducing the harm to children from parental problem drug use should become a main objective of policy and practice.
  4. Effective treatment of the parent can have major benefits for the child.
  5. By working together, services can take many practical steps to protect and impove the health and well-being of affected children.
  6. The number of affected children is only likely decrease when the number of problem drug users decreases. 

In 2007, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs released Hidden Harm: Three Years On: Realities, Challenges and Opportunities. There is also an executive summary of the report.

The Home Office writes: This report, in keeping with the original Hidden Harm report, focuses on the lives and experience of a large, diverse and vulnerable group of children. One of the recommendations of the original report was 'that the voices of children should be heard and listened to' (recommendation 6).

Accordingly, this report includes children's own words throughout, drawn from projects set up and research carried out since the original report, in order to provide a reminder of their lives, experiences and resilience.


Alcohol Strategy 2012

The Home Office's alcohol strategy 2012 sets out proposals to crack down on the 'binge drinking' culture in our country; cut alcohol-fuelled violence and disorder and slash the number of people drinking to damaging levels. This strategy was published by the Home Office on 23 March 2012.

Drug strategy: Reducing demand, restricting supply, building recovery: supporting people to live a drug-free life

The Home Office's drug strategy aims to reduce the influence of drugs in our society. The drug strategy was created in 2010 and was reviewed in May 2012.

The review provides an update on progress in meeting the commitments to reduce demand, restrict supply and build recovery in communities. It also highlights achievements and identifies priorities, and gives detail on our approach to tackling the threat from new psychoactive substances (NPS), or so called 'legal highs'.

The Munro review of child protection: Final report: A child-centred system

This final report sets out proposals to reform child protection which are intended to create the conditions that enable professionals to make the best judgements about the help to give children, young people and families. This involves moving from a system that has become over-bureaucratised and focused on compliance to one that values and develops professional expertise and is focused on the safety and welfare of children and young people. Published by the Department for Education, May 2011.

Improving support for young carers - Family focused approaches

This paper from the Department for Education focuses on the work undertaken by 18 local authorities that received funding to develop systems and support to address the needs of families with young carers. It explores some of the positive outcomes linked to taking a family focused approach and showcases good practice developed in this field. 

Joint working protocol: Safegaurding children and young people

This guidance was produced by four safeguarding boards.

The full title of the publication is Joint Working Protocol: Safegaurding children and young people whose parents / carers have problems with: mental health, substance misuse, learning disability and emotional or psychological distress.

Early intervention: The next steps

This independent report delivered to the government in 2011 addresses early intervention, particularly with an eye towards breaking generational cycles of deprivation and dysfunction.