‘Parental substance misuse’ is the long-term misuse of drugs and/or alcohol by a parent or carer.
This includes parents and carers who:
- consume harmful amounts of alcohol (for example if their drinking is leading to alcohol-related health problems or accidents)
- are dependent on alcohol
- use drugs regularly and excessively
- are dependent on drugs.
It also includes parents who aren’t able to supervise their children appropriately because of their substance use (NSPCC, 2018).
Most parents and carers who drink alcohol or use drugs do so in moderation, which doesn’t present an increased risk of harm to their children (Cleaver, Unell and Aldgate, 2011).
However, parents and carers who misuse substances can have chaotic, unpredictable lifestyles and may struggle to recognise and meet their children’s needs. This may result in their children being at risk of harm.