Four in 10 children on the child protection register, and almost
two-thirds of those subject to care proceedings, have parents who
are involved in substance misuse, according to a recent
The unpublished research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and
covering four councils in London, reveals that parental substance
misuse affects more than one-third of all cases dealt with by
Alcohol, crack cocaine and heroin were the most prevalent
substances, with alcohol abuse being cited most frequently.
Alcoholism lay behind 41 of the 100 family cases dealt with by the
four councils over the year and was combined with drug problems in
a further 27 cases. Drugs misuse alone was found in 32
The study is the first large-scale British study of its kind and
also finds that although parents’ alcohol misuse caused the most
harm to children, social services were much quicker to react if
crack cocaine or heroin were involved.