5.24 Parental Substance Misuse
This chapter should be read in conjunction with Best Practice Guidance When Parents Are Using Drugs/Alcohol: Working Together with Parents and Children.
Misuse of drugs and/or alcohol is strongly associated with significant harm to children, especially when combined with other features such as domestic abuse.
The risk to children may arise from:
- Use of the family resources to finance the parents' dependency, characterised by inadequate food, heat and clothing for the children;
- Exposing children to unsuitable care givers or visitors - e.g. customers or dealers;
- Effects of alcohol which may lead to dis-inhibited behaviours e.g. inappropriate display of sexual and/or aggressive behaviour;
- Chaotic drug use which may lead to increased irritability, emotional unavailability, irrational behaviour and reduced parental vigilance;
- Withdrawal symptoms including mood disturbances;
- Unsafe storage of drugs or injecting equipment;
- Adverse impact of growth and development of an unborn child.
Importance of Working in Partnership
Working in partnership across agencies and services is vital for an effective assessment of risk and to ensure the safety of children.
Professional staff in drug and alcohol services must exchange information with Surrey Children's Services, Health Visitors, School Nurses and Midwives in order to be able to assess risks for the children. See Information Sharing Procedure.
Care programme meetings regarding drug or alcohol-abusing parents must include consideration of any needs or risk factors for the children concerned. Relevant Surrey Children's Services teams must be given the opportunity and should contribute to such discussions.