Children whose parents use drugs
In 2021, the Pompidou Group introduced a subject that so far has not received enough attention: children whose parents use drugs. The impact of parental substance use is reflected in the children’s development outcomes and in their daily lives. In order to protect children, it is necessary to address their needs as holders of human rights and make sure they grow up in a healthy and protected environment.
This project addresses both the children and parents affected by substance use while focusing on the programmes, services and practices in place in the different states to address the issue. It includes a wide range of interventions in the field of programmes aimed at families and children, services for women who use substances and are mothers, dependence treatment services that take into account parental responsibilities and the children’s needs and particular situation, as well as shelters for female victims and survivors of violence who use substances.
Read more about the development of our project in 2022 : ‘Use Your Voice’ - Lessons from the Pompidou Group project to empower children with parents who use drugs - Global Campus of Human Rights
The project on children whose parents use drugs has been carried out in two phases: the first one started in November 2020 and was completed in February 2021. The second phase has been implemented throughout 2021 with the involvement of 11 countries (Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Turkey).
Related reports and executive summaries:
Identifying promising practices and recommendations
Building on the work done so far, an ISBN publication entitled ‘Children Whose Parents Use Drugs – Promising practices and recommendations Volume I’ is available in English.
Read ISBN publication (2022)
This publication sheds light on an invisible population: children and adolescents living in families where at least one parent uses drugs. This focus on children exposed to parental dependence on drugs and alcohol implies helping them and their families to overcome dependence and its consequences. Parental drug use impacts children at every stage of their lives, from before birth and well into their adult lives. However, until now, this situation has received very little attention. This publication looks at children growing up in families affected by drug and alcohol dependence, as well as the services, programmes and practices that help protect childhood and ensure children’s needs are met, while at the same time addressing the needs of parents.
This project is part of the Pompidou Group’s mission of integrating human rights into drug policy.
The content, conclusions and recommendations presented in volume I of this series called "children and families affected by parental drug use" intend to contribute to increasing knowledge base and interest in the topic and serve as a practical reference for the identification of promising practices and international partners to address it. It includes 29 experiences and practices from governmental or non-governmental bodies, divided by main area of intervention and country. This has been possible thanks to the participation of 102 people in different activities.
Far from being a conclusion, this publication is the first step in an ongoing joint effort to give visibility to children of parents who use drugs and a tool to foster cooperation and dialogue between governmental and non-governmental actors.
This project was proposed in response to the Council of Europe’s invitation to Pompidou Group Secretariat to contribute to the discussions on the themes which should appear in the new Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of the Child for the period 2022-2027 – an important reference document promoting the rights of 150 million children in Europe. Thanks to the involvement and contribution of the Pompidou Group, the Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of the Child contains the objective “Mapping, analysing and providing guidance on the situation of children suffering from addictive behaviours and children of parents using drugs”.
The Pompidou Group continued research on this topic in 2022 as part of an ongoing effort to give visibility to these children and to develop proposals for creating or strengthening services that both protect children and support families. It also intertwines with the effort of the Pompidou Group to integrate a gender dimension into drug policies in Europe.
VOLUME II - WE ARE WARRIORS
Women who use drugs reflect on parental drug use, their paths of consumption and access to services Volume II contains testimonies from 110 women who use drugs, in 11 different countries who participated in interviews
VOLUME III - LISTEN TO THE SILENCE OF THE CHILD
With this Volume III, 33 children in five countries are given the floor with the aim of making their experiences visible and ensuring that their voices are listened to, thus breaking the silence that surrounds the impact of parental drug use on children and letting them know that they are not alone.
Children were approached by services that already work with them, mainly drug treatment or harm reduction services, although in some cases child protection services were also involved.
VOLUME IV - CHILDREN AND PARENTS AFFECTED BY DRUG USE
This fourth volume offers a perspective of how to develop more comprehensive, child centred approaches in drug policies in general and in non-stigmatising drug treatment and care in particular.
This study, which is the outcome of international collaboration among researchers, practitioners and policy makers at different levels, works toward the ultimate goal of meanstreaming human rights including children’s rights into drug policy.