Children with parents who use substances are at an increased risk for child maltreatment. Drugs and alcohol inhibit a parent's ability to function in a parental role and may lessen impulse control, allowing parents to behave abusively. Children in these homes may suffer from a variety of physical, mental, and emotional health problems at a greater rate than do children in the general population. These children are also subject to higher rates of emotional, physical, and sexual violence; housing instability; poverty; and physical health issues. The following resources describe the characteristics of people who engage in child maltreatment where substance use is involved.
Alcoholism and Child Abuse – The Connection Between Alcohol and Child Abuse
Vertava Health (2019)
Provides information on the connection between alcohol use and child maltreatment, including in cases of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect.
Children Living With Parents Who Have a Substance Use Disorder
Lipari & Van Horn (2017)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality
Discusses how children living with parents who have a substance use disorder are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect along with other impacts.
Is There a Link Between Parental Drug Use and the Prevalence of Child Maltreatment and/or the Increase in the Number of Children in Foster Care?
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau
Discusses parental substance use as a risk factor for child abuse and neglect and data on the connection between the two. The webpage links to several resources for more information on parental substance use and child maltreatment.
Modeling Risk for Child Abuse and Harsh Parenting in Families With Depressed and Substance-Abusing Parents
Kelley, Lawrence, Milletich, Hollis, & Henson (2015)
Child Abuse & Neglect, 43
Discusses substance use by fathers and by both parents, as well as parents' depression, as risk factors for child abuse. Results showed that parental substance use was associated with child abuse and harsh parenting and that a parent's report of depressive symptoms also predicted their risk for maltreating children.
Parental Substance Use Disorder and Child Abuse: Risk Factors for Child Maltreatment?
Goldberg & Blaauw (2019)
Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 26(6)
Examines risk factors associated with child abuse in parents with substance use disorders.