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Research demonstrates effects of parental drug addiction

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Claims that there is no research on the effects of parental P use on children is not correct.

A new article published this week in Kotuitui, the Royal Society’s journal of social sciences, demonstrates the effects of parental P (meth) addiction on grandparent carers and children. 

Key findings about the 578 children affected by parental drug abuse include:

Drug use was the number one reason for children living with their grandparents;

Contact with parents was often sporadic and unsatisfactory, and a number of parents were dead, in prison or had moved away;

Drug addiction and alcohol abuse occurred together in 47% of cases;

The family broke down involuntarily in 47% of cases;

Other factors in the breakdown were parental mental health, child abuse and abandonment;

Many of the children have problems and these impact on family life;

Many have multiple diagnoses, such as one case: "His diagnoses are AS, they wrote this as ‘features of’ AS’ but he is definitely high functioning Autism Spectrum, ADHD, ODD, GDD and some FAS";

A small number of children (20/578) experience severe physical, mental, emotional and behavioural problems;

Teratogenic effects of neurodevelopmental abnormalities are possibly the cause of a high rate of emotional and behavioural problems;

Younger children are often expected to grow out of their problems, but often these problems get worse;

Some children are at least partially healed by living in a loving environment with grandparents;

Of the 397 grandparent families, 14% noted that one or more of their children had assaulted them physically, often as the children got older. In most cases, the child appeared to lose control of their responses;

There is often significant disagreement among experts about diagnosis and treatment of the various disorders;

Despite these problems, three quarters of grandparents were happy with the education the children were receiving;

But many were concerned at the children’s lack of progress;

Some believe that teachers have no idea how to work with these children;

Many of these children are doing well but some have major problems and little help.

The study concludes by discussing the wide range of needs among the children and that many cope well, but a small number have extreme needs. There are significant health and social policy implications. More support and assistance is needed.

This article was funded by the NZ Drug Foundation as part of a larger study for the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust.

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