The drug situation in the United Kingdom (2011): Parental substance misuse focus

The UK drug situation report is produced annually by the UK Focal Point on Drugs, which is a national partner of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

With a predetermined report structure to allow for comparison betweennations, a chapter was dedicated to drug users with children in the 2011 report. The estimates of parental drug misuse are based on the primary source of data on drug users with children, which is treatment data. Treatment data cannot capture the full extent of the problem as not all problem drug users are in treatment. Read on for a summary of their findings:

National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS)

Data for 2009/2010 showed that just over half (57%) of opiate and crack cocaine users were in treatment. Of those:

  • 71% or the majority of clients entering drug treatment had children
  • Women (73%) were slightly more likely than men (70%) to be a parent
  • Over half (53%) of clients had some or all (48%) of their children living with them
  • Women (68%) were more likely than men (45%) to have some or all of their children living with them

Drug Treatment Outcomes Research Study (DTORS)

Baseline data of a sample of individuals seeking drug treatment (n=1,792) showed that, in February 2006, nearly half of the respondents had children under 16 years of age (58% of females and 46% of males).

  • In three-quarters of cases all of their children did not live with them
  • Males (17%)  were less likely than females (44%) to have at least 1 of their children living with them
  • A further 20% of children lived with the family, 8% were in care and 5% lived ‘elsewhere’
  • Older respondents were more likely to have children who did not live with them
  • 92% of primary crack users did not have any of their children living with them, compared to 74% of primary heroin users
  • 5% of primary crack users had all their children living with them at baseline, increasing to 24% at second follow-up
  • The proportion of parents in the study who had all of their children living with them increased across all subgroups between baseline and the second follow-up interview

Household survey data

In 2009 a household survey was carried out in order to estimate levels of parental drug and alcohol misuse in the UK. Larger estimates of parental drug use were generated by this study compared to those produced for the Hidden Harm (ACMD 2003) report which used treatment data. It was estimated that:

  • 335,000 children lived with a dependent drug user
  • 72,000 children lived with an injecting drug user (IDU)
  • 72,000 lived with a drug user in treatment
  • 108,000 children lived with an adult who had overdosed

There is a large difference in the figures between the treatment monitoring system and the monitoring at the end of the process, the outcomes research study. Why do you think this is? Let us know or post your thoughts on this data.

This entry was posted in Drug News, Drug Testing, Family Law, Substance Misuse. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *