Parents'addiction Blighting Children; 350,000 at Risk from Drug Abuse

Article excerpt

Byline: Emma Britton

DRUGand children's charities last night welcomed a report which reveals that up to 350,000 children in the UK have at least one parent who suffers from a serious drug addiction.

In the first study of its kind, Hidden Harm revealed the lives of about 2pc to 3pc of all children under 16 in England and Wales are scarred by their parents' addiction.

As many as 4pc to 6pc (41,000-59,000) of children in Scotland suffer the same fate.

Roger Howard, chief executive of drugs charity DrugScope, praised the report published by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

He said: ``This report fills a void in understanding the effect that drug misuse by parents and carers has on

children and young people. ``DrugScope especially welcomes the emphasis on getting parents into treatment as this will have a positive impact on the child's development and their relationship with parents and carers.''

The report published yesterday says these children face physical and psychological abuse,often have to fend for themselves, and may be forced to care for their parents and younger siblings.

Lucy Thorpe, NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) policy advisor for health and family support, said: ``The NSPCC welcomes the Government's recognition of the harmful impact that parental drug use can have on children.

``Parental problem drug use as well as alcohol misuse,mental illness and domestic violence, a reknown risk factors in many child abusecases.

``It's essential agencies work together to consider the risks to a child where this is known parental drug use and to provide effective services and support to meet both children's and parents' needs.''

Vivienne Evans, chief executive of Adfam, a national charity working with families affected by problems with drugs and alcohol, said: ``Faced with the stigma that affects most families of problematic drug users, children often hide the problem - compounding their isolation.

``In our research,children of drug users expressed hurt, rejection, shame, sadness and anger, and are forced to live with the anxiety that these feelings create. …