Parental Substance and Alcohol Misuse


When parent’s misuse drugs and alcohol there will be an inevitable impact on children in the home. The vast majority of parents who do misuse services never intend to cause any harm to their children but sometimes, especially where the misuse is uncontrolled, children’s safety and wellbeing can be put at risk.

Risks to Children

Drug or alcohol misuse of a parent can have an impact on children in a number of ways, including:

  • Substance misuse in pregnancy may impair the development of an unborn child;
  • The risk of physical injury to a child sleeping next to an adult, occurring as a result of the adult lying over or against the child (over lay) is increased if the adult is sedated due to the effects of alcohol and/or prescribed or illicit drugs;
  • The risk from drugs and drug equipment being left lying around – there have been a number of cases recently in Wirral where children have ingested methadone that was left unattended
  • A parent’s practical caring skills may be diminished by substance misuse;
  • Substance misuse, or withdrawal from substance misuse, may give rise to mental states or behaviour that put children at risk of injury, psychological/emotional distress or neglect;
  • Children’s physical, emotional, social, intellectual and developmental needs can be adversely affected by their parent’s misuse of substances;
  • Substance misusing parents may find it difficult to prioritise the needs of the children over their own i.e.: health appointments, schooling;
  • Children may be introduced to drug and alcohol misuse at an early age by the behaviour of the parents and the availability of the substances within the home.
    Money available to the household to meet basic needs may be reduced;
  • Members of the family, including children, may be drawn into criminal activity;
  • Children may be at risk of Physical Harm, or death if drugs and drugs paraphernalia are not stored safely and children have access to them;
  • Children may be endangered if they are carried as passengers in vehicles driven by a substance misusing parent;
  • Children being forced to take on a caring role and feeling they have the responsibility to solve their parent’s, alcohol and drug problems;
  • There are potential risks to the child from parental acquaintances or family members if they are also involved in drug/alcohol misuse.

Support for Parents

Parent’s and carers who misuse drugs and alcohol should discuss their addiction with their GP who can direct them to services who can help. Details are provided below about Wirral Ways to Recovery. This is a local and confidential drug and alcohol service for adults.

Wirral Ways to Recovery

Wirral Ways to Recovery (WWR) is a free and confidential drug and alcohol service for adults (including offenders), young adults, families, carers and affected others in Wirral. They are the community substance misuse service in Wirral and they offer the following services:

  • Open access for assessment etc (by drop-in) at all Hubs from 9-5 Monday to Friday. Additionally, there is also access from 10-2 on a Saturday at the Birkenhead Hub only
  • Street Outreach Teams
  • Housing Support and Advice
  • Community detoxification
  • Foundations of recovery workshops
  • Access to residential detoxification and rehabilitation
  • Service user computer suites
  • Specialist Nurses
  • Psychological Therapists
  • Recovery Champions
  • Support with education, training and employment
  • ‘Think Family’ workers
  • Peer Mentoring training/diploma and opportunities
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Family carer support services

The WWR website includes details about how to refer (including self-referral) into the service, as well as online confidential self-assessment tools for adults concerned about their own drug and alcohol usage.

Contact Details for Wirral Ways to Recovery:
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 0151 5561335
Office Addresses: 23 Conway Street in Birkenhead, Ashton House in Moreton, and 151-153 Brighton Street in Wallasey

Further Information and Useful Links

• NHS Guidance for Alcohol Abuse –
• NHS Drug Addiction Getting Help –

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