Drugs harm revealed

Reducing harm to the children of problem drug users should be a
main objective of official drugs strategies, says an official

Up to 350,000 children in the UK are being harmed by their
parents’ drug use, says the Advisory Council on the Misuse of

The report, Hidden Harm, estimates that between 250,000
and 350,000 children have at least one parent with a serious drug
problem and that parental problem drug use is causing serious harm
to children at every age from conception to adulthood.

The Children’s National Service Framework and its Scottish
and Welsh equivalents should identify the children of problem drug
users as a large group with special needs that require specific
actions by health, education and social services. All drug action
teams should also ensure that supporting and protecting
users’ children is an essential part of their strategy.

Drug use during pregnancy can seriously affect the development
of the baby, and after birth the child may be exposed to many
hazards including poverty, physical and emotional abuse or neglect,
dangerously inadequate supervision, separation, poor accommodation
and frequent moves, exposure to criminal activity, and social

More than a third of children whose mothers had a serious drug
problem, were separated from them – mostly living with a


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