Parenting and caring for children under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol

Family life can be difficult at the best of times, so when you are thinking about, or receiving, support for substance misuse it can, at times, feel like an impossible task.

We understand that it is very difficult to open up about your substance use, particularly when you are caring for children. Many parents and carers worry about having their children taken into care, having professionals judge them and their lifestyles, and not wanting their children to know about their habits.

At Cambridgeshire DAAT, we like to think we have moved forward when considering children who are cared for by those with substance misuse. We know, having children does not mean you  are automatically a ‘bad’ parent or carer and that’s why we have invested a lot of time working with Adult treatment Services within Cambridgeshire to work more collaboratively with Children Services to provide the right support for you and your family to aid your treatment and recovery. We want all parents and carers with substance misuse to do what is best for them, their family and their children and to feel safe and secure in this process.

It is important that you consider the impact of your drug and/or alcohol use and ask yourself; ‘How does my drug and/or alcohol use impact on my lifestyle, children and family?

Please take a moment to read some of the Protective Factors for you and your children below and have a look at the links where you can access possible support;

What can you do as a parent or carer to support you and your child?
· Work with support services to reduce or manage your substance misuse.
· Work towards becoming drug or alcohol free.
. Seek help. Get in touch with your local Adult Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services for support; Inclusion – Adult Drug and Alcohol Support Service – 0300 555 0101 Website
· Plan your use when the children are not around – can your child go to a trusted family member or friend?
· If there is another adult in the house who does not use drugs and/or alcohol, can they always provide your child with the care and attention they need?
· Can you rely on this adult? Are the children safe with them?
· Give a name and contact to an older child for them to call if help was needed.
· Talk to support services who can offer support to your child, or give your child this information;

o Carers Trust – 0845 241 0954

o Centre 33 Young Carers Project – 01223 316 488    Website

o Childline – 0800 1111 – Website
· Seek help from services who can support your lifestyle and whole family needs;

o Cambridgeshire Children, Family and Adult Services – 0345 045 1360 Website

· Provide opportunities for your child to enjoy and achieve – after school clubs, extra curriculum, sports and arts.
· Store your drugs and/or alcohol out of reach, out of sight.
· Don’t invite others into your home to use drugs or alcohol when the children are there.
· Always clear away your used bottles, cans and drug equipment.
· Use a safe box for medication and drugs – Inclusion can provide a safe box for you.
· Use a needle disposal bin and keep out of the reach of children
· Do not let your child think that your drug and/or alcohol use is normal or OK.
· Discuss your problem with your older children, family and close friends. Let them know if you are seeking help to support your recovery (if this is difficult for you, ask for help from Inclusion)
· Ask if you want more parental support – there is a lot of support for parents within your local community through the Children Centres, Schools and Locality Services.

Contact Cambridge Family Information Service; 0345 045 1360 or register with your local Children Centre, ask for support at school (most primary schools in Cambridgeshire have Family Workers attached or they will have details on how to contact them, have a look at the family support link above) or ask your Recovery Worker. You don’t have to tell all professionals attached to your child about your drug and/or alcohol problem, you just need to ask for support as a parent – just like any other, but if you do it may be easier for everyone involved.
· Don’t be worried to talk about your problem; you need to take control for the sake of your child.
Your drug and/or alcohol problem does not mean you are automatically a bad parent but it is your responsibility to make sure your child is safe, well and has everything they need to thrive and have a positive childhood.

If you want more information on how to protect your teenager from substance misuse please look at the Young People’s section. Link