Substance misuse

Many parents who use drugs and/or alcohol are able to parent appropriately. Some parents who use drugs and/or alcohol need support with parenting. An assessment and on-going, consistent support designed to meet the needs of the child and family are needed.

Parental drug and/or alcohol misuse is one of the most common risk factors where children are subject to Child Protection Plans in Islington. National estimates suggest up to 1.3 million children are affected by parental alcohol problems and up to 350,000 children are affected by parents with problematic drug issues. Figures for Islington suggest a high prevalence of problematic adult drug use, 3.5% compared to a London average of 1.4%. 

Parental drug/alcohol misuse is strongly correlated with family conflict, and with domestic violence and abuse. The risk to children is magnified where both issues co-exist. Harm associated with parental alcohol misuse is not necessarily correlated with the level of alcohol consumption. Binge or episodic drinking can cause as much harm as dependent use.  

The risks posed to children from parental substance misuse include the following:

  • Exposure to chaotic parental behaviour
  • Insecure attachment patterns/inconsistent parenting
  • Neglect of children’s physical needs and routines
  • Failure to thrive
  • Delayed development/problems with concentration/lack of basic social skills/low self-esteem
  • Associated health risks and physical dangers
  • Engaging in a higher level of risk taking behaviours; drugs, alcohol, offending and sexual behaviours
  • Exposure to substance misusing environments and adults
  • Increased risk of abuse
  • Inappropriate levels of responsibility afforded to children
  • Isolation, secrecy, stigma and bullying
  • Impact on family finances

(ACMD: Hidden Harm Report 2003) 

If you think that a child/young person is in immediate danger you must ring the police on 999.

If you think that a child/young person whose parent/carer has drug and/or alcohol misuse problems is at risk you must make an immediate referral to Islington Children's Services Contact Team, 020 7527 7400,

Contact Islington Children's Services Contact Team, 020 7527 7400, for information and advice concerning children/young people whose parent/carer has drug and/or alcohol use problems.  

If you have concerns about the substance misuse of a parent/carer they can be referred for support to CASA Family Service. Contact them on 0207 561 7490. Self-referral is also possible.

Substance Misuse and Young People

If you are worried about a child or young person who is misusing alcohol or drugs, or you are a young person and you would like some support to either stop taking drugs and alcohol or reducing use and the impact these have on your life then support is available from Islington Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Service (IYPDAS).

IYPDAS work with young people up to their 19th birthday and provides a range of targeted interventions with young people including treatment and care plans, group session and 1-1 work.  We will meet with the young people and complete an assessment, then agree how we can work together to address the substance misuse concerns.  We also provide training to professionals and advice to parents and carers.

To discuss a referral or talk to someone about getting support please email or call the TYS duty manager on 0207 527 2600.