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Alcohol, drugs and their role in child neglectCreated by Lisa in Health and Safety
People choose to take drugs or drink alcohol for many different reasons. This can include prescription medicines as well as illegal drugs and very often starts as something to ‘take the edge off’ a problem or situation.
The reasons often become more complex as time goes on and can include:
- to avoid feeling bored
- to fit in with peers
- to have more self-confidence (often leading to aggression)
- to belong to a special group
- to forget about problems
- to relax and feel good
Unfortunately, once choice gives way to dependency, people will often pay for drugs and/or alcohol before everyday necessities like food or even steal to do so and this will of course have an impact on any dependents they may have.
If you are concerned about an adult who is drinking too much or taking drugs and you believe the children are being neglected as a result, there are several things you can do.
Firstly, you should read our What is child neglect? page to see if this is having an impact on their care of those dependents.
If you think it is and you have an immediate concern about a child, you should contact the Social Care department provided by the Council in your area who are available 24 hours a day. You can find your council’s contact details online or in the phonebook.
If your concern is urgent, please call the police in your area or 999.
There is help available for adults with dependencies and there is also help available to help them look after children in their care. Our contacts page has details of further specialist organisations that can help them.
Children and alcohol or drugs
If you think a child or teenager might be taking drugs, it can be extremely difficult to find out. Even if you are the parent or know the child well a direct question or confrontation about it can lead to even more defensive behaviour and a refusal to communicate.
Broadly, some indicators might be anxiety, depression, disrupted sleep and rest, difficulty controlling mood, reduced well-being and school standards dropping. Many of these symptoms are associated with puberty and teenage years anyway so it might be easy to jump to conclusions.
Keeping an open communication channel and a trusting relationship is often the best route to finding out what’s going on. For further advice from different organisations, our useful contacts page has categories for drugs, alcohol and parenting.
By Action for Children