Substance Misue Cin

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It is acknowledged that not all substance users have problems with parenting. However in many cases it will be necessary to make an assessment, which includes the substance use and behaviour of the parents, and any impact from this upon their parenting, before deciding what help, if any, is required, and whether child protection procedures should be initiated.

Child in Need – A child i.e. a person under 18 years is in need if they are unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health and development without the provision of services by a local authority.

All substance misuse is potentially harmful and most types of use carry health risks. The use of drugs, alcohol and solvents can result in accidents, unsociable behaviour, crime and health problems including poisoning or overdose. Use of certain substances, for example, heroin and crack is associated with a greater potential to cause harm due to both greater health risks and greater social risks, such as acquisitive crime. Some methods of use are more harmful than others, for example, intravenous use, as this can lead to the transmission of blood born disease such as HIV and Hepatitis (see Appendix 1). Furthermore, some patterns of use are more harmful than others, these include:

Dependent use - A compulsion to continue to use a substance in order to feel good or avoid feeling bad. When this is done to avoid physical discomfort it is known as physical dependence, when it is used to avoid anxiety or mental stress or promote stimulation or pleasure, it is known as psychological dependence.

Agencies working with substance misusing parents should recognise that children are not necessarily at risk just because a parent uses substances. Many children of substance misusing parents receive good parenting, stability and have all their needs fully met. However, agencies working with children should be alert to the possibility that...
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