Most parents who occasionally use alcohol and drugs will do so responsibly in a way that does not impact on their children. Making sure that their children are cared for safely and that they are not at risk of harm.
For some children their parent’s misuse of drugs and alcohol will put them at risk physically and/or emotionally. Some of the damage can affect them for the rest of their lives.
Parents who recognise that their drug and/or alcohol use could be harming their loved ones can access support and advice to manage this. Getting the right help at the right time can help the whole family.
What Is Alcohol And Drug Misuse?
When a person’s use of drugs and/or alcohol means that they put themselves and those around them at risk, it is misuse.
Regularly using drink or drugs can build up over time and you may not realise it is happening. You may be upset and angry if someone mentions it is becoming a problem. It can be hard to accept.
A parent’s need for drugs and/or alcohol can becomes a bigger priority than caring for their family – even though they love them very much.
Both alcohol and drugs are addictive –the need to get hold of, and use substances can be very strong.
How Can it Affect Pregnancy?
Even before they are born children can be affected by their parent’s behaviour and choices. Using drugs and alcohol during pregnancy can cause;
If you are pregnant and you or your partner are struggling with drug misuse it is really important to talk to your GP or midwife about this so that they can help you have a healthy pregnancy and birth. You will not be judged by professionals – everyone will want to help you have a good, healthy start to family life.
When parents are under the influence of substances it could mean they are not able to keep their child safe. They might not be able to make sure children have what they need emotionally and/or physically.
As children grow being around alcohol /drug use continues to cause harm;
Children who grow up around drug and alcohol misuse are more likely to have mental health problems.
Having a parent who misuses drugs and/or alcohol can makes childhood hard. It can make parents feel sad and guilty. You may not know what to do next but there is support available for you and your children if you need it.
If You Think You Have A Problem?
It can take time to accept you might have a problem. It might be others who mention it to you first. Their may be signs that your drink and/or drug use is having a negative affect on you and your loved ones.
You might notice that it is hard to find the energy to spend time with your children. Caring for them might seem difficult and your patience might be less.
Asking for help to take control of your drug and alcohol use is a really positive step. You and your children will benefit from this. Services will be keen to work with you to help you get back on track.
In Norfolk, Change Grow Live (CGL), an alcohol and drug behaviour change service can support you to make positive change.
The Matthew Project delivers Unity, the specialist Drug and Alcohol Service for children, young people and their families across Norfolk. They can offer support for children and young people affected by someone else's substance misuse.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.
Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults in Norfolk and Waveney from a professional team of qualified counsellors. Alternatively you can talk to your GP.
For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support.
To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.