Calls about parental substance abuse putting children at risk have increased - how to get help

By Ethan Shone
Thursday, 18th February 2021, 11:41 am
Updated Thursday, 18th February 2021, 11:41 am
Calls about parental substance abuse putting children at risk have increased - how to get help (Photo: Shutterstock)
Calls about parental substance abuse putting children at risk have increased - how to get help (Photo: Shutterstock)

Reports of parental alcohol and drug misuse in the UK have gone up during the Covid pandemic, according to new research.

The conditions created by the pandemic and economic downturn have created a “perfect storm” for families dealing with parental substance abuse, according to experts.

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The number of people reporting concerns about children in the presence of parents dealing with substance abuse issues to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) helpline has consistently risen since last March.

Almost 12,000 reports were made to the NSPCC’s helpline between 1 April 2020 and 31 January 2021, with 1,178 average contacts per month over that time.

In the three months before the pandemic began, the charity’s helpline received an average of 709 contacts per month relating to parental substance abuse concerns.

If the issues being reported to the helpline are particularly bad, then the concerns will be referred to an external agency, like the police or child services.

Charity bosses are urging parents who have substance addiction issues to access support, in order to “keep our children safe”.

‘Unprecedented pressure’

Kam Thandi, head of the NSPCC helpline, said: “Parental substance misuse can have a seriously detrimental impact on the whole family. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have created a perfect storm for families affected by this problem.

“The pressures on families at the moment are unprecedented and it is no surprise that our helpline is hearing that parents and carers are struggling with substance misuse.

“To keep our children safe it’s vital that those who are relying on drugs and alcohol, to the extent that the care of their children is being compromised, must seek help.

“The Government must also invest more in local services.

“Our frontline practitioners have told us that many parents and carers are struggling to access specialist support services which will help them recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

Where to get support

If you or someone you know is suffering with substance abuse issues and need support, there are a number of organisations and resources to turn to.

Your local GP can help you find the appropriate treatment through the NHS, with information available here.

Drug support and advice service, Frank, also has a number of useful resources, including a list of private support agencies, which can be found here.

Organisations like Al-Anon offer support to anyone impacted by someone else’s substance problems, particularly family members.

The charity Adfam has compiled a useful list of organisations and support agencies which offer different kinds of help based on your situation. You can find the list here.