What is substance misuse?
Substance misuse is when someone's drinking or drug use becomes harmful or dependent.
By 'harmful' we mean when someone puts themselves or others in danger. They might continue to drink or take drugs even if it puts them at risk of illness, psychological problems or physical accidents.
Dependent drinking or drug use is when someone craves alcohol or drugs and continues to use them even though it causes them social, health or even financial problems.
How does substance misuse affect children?
Living in a household where a parent or carer misuses substances doesn't mean a child will experience abuse but it can be a risk.
Substance misuse can have negative effects on children at different stages in their lives.
During pregnancy, drinking and drug use can put babies at risk of birth defects, premature birth, being born underweight and withdrawal symptoms.
In later years, substance misuse can put children at risk of:
- physical and emotional abuse or neglect
- behavioural or emotional problems
- having to care for their parents or siblings
- poor attendance at school or low grades
- experiencing poverty
- being exposed to drugs or criminal activity
- being separated from parents.
Where to find help
Other organisations providing support to children and families include:
- We Are With You
Free and confidential support to people experiencing issues with drugs, alcohol or mental health.
Advice and support for families affected by drugs and alcohol.
- Alcoholics Anonymous
Help and emotional support through AA meetings for people experiencing problems with alcohol.
Friendly, confidential advice on drugs and details of local and national services.
Help for children
Sometimes children worry about parents or family members drinking or using drugs and might need someone to talk to. They can talk to Childline online or by calling 0800 1111 at any time 24/7.
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