Family Environment: Drug Using Parents (FEDUP) Working with parents with drug and alcohol problems

This service is no longer being delivered, but we have carried out an evaluation. On these pages you can find out how the service worked and what we've learnt.

Being a parent is hard work. But it can be even more difficult if a parent has drink or drug problems. Drugs and alcohol can:

  • make it difficult for parents to deal with family life
  • put pressure on relationships
  • affect children's feelings, their relationship with their parents and how they're looked after.

Family Environment: Drug Using Parents (FEDUP) is a service to help children and families where one or both parents misuse drugs or alcohol. It's based on a programme originally developed by us in Grimsby.

It gives children aged between 5 and 12 years a safe, confidential space to express their feelings and build self-esteem. Talking with other young people in a similar situation can help children feel less alone.

FEDUP helps parents understand how their children are affected by their drug or alcohol problems. It can help them reduce the effect on their children.

girl sitting a table playing with finger puppets

How it worked

FEDUP began with a 4-week assessment period with parent and child so we could learn more about the family and the support they needed.

Working with children

Children joined a group of up to 5 young people for 10 weekly sessions which aimed to provide children with drug or alcohol misusing parents with:

  • a safe space
  • mutual support from other young people to build self-esteem
  • a better understanding of drug and alcohol problems
  • the opportunity to develop life skills to improve their ability to deal with difficult circumstances.

Sessions involved:

  • structured discussions
  • games
  • role play
  • craft activities.

These activities helped children to relax and have fun.

We worked in groups and talked about topics such as family secrets and domestic violence, first aid, healthy eating, safety in the home and bullying.

Working with parents

We also worked with parents in one-to-one sessions. These took place over 8 weeks and explored:

  • how substance misuse affects you, your child and family life
  • your own history and experiences
  • keeping your child safe
  • your child's life history
  • child development
  • support networks.

In the final 2 sessions parents and children worked together to develop a safety plan, which helped the child to identify circumstances where they might be at risk and take action to ensure they didn't experience any harm.

Children's stories

"I even felt lonely when mum and dad were in the house because mentally they were completely out of it."

Read Sophie's story

Evaluating the impact

Find out how we evaluated FEDUP.

Learn more

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Last year a third of all calls to our helpline were about neglect, a figure that's even higher at Christmas. Donate now and help shine a light on children left in the dark.

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