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November/December 2001Vol. 2, No. 6CWLA Addresses Intersection Between Substance Abuse and Child Abuse

Parental substance abuse is a major factor contributing to child abuse and neglect. This connection is the subject of a new booklet by the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA).

Entitled "Alcohol, Other Drugs, & Child Welfare," the booklet provides information and statistics on the relationship of substance abuse to child welfare. It briefly describes the current status of this problem in America, followed by sections describing the costs (financial and otherwise) of substance abuse in families, and specific kinds of programs and strategies that have been shown to be effective in combating this problem.

Among the booklet's findings are the following:

  • More than 8 million children live with parents who are substance abusers.
  • Substance abuse exists in 40 to 80 percent of families in which the children are victims of abuse.
  • Children whose substance-abusing parents do not receive appropriate treatment are more likely to remain in foster care longer and to reenter foster care once they have returned home.
  • Children whose parents abuse alcohol and other drugs are three times more likely to be abused and more than four times more likely to be neglected than children from non-abusing families.

Parents' abuse of alcohol and other drugs can lead to a cycle of addiction, which is reflected by high rates of alcoholism and other substance abuse among children of addicts. Substance abuse among youth leads to a domino effect of problems in school, involvement in juvenile justice, teen pregnancy, and mental and emotional turmoil. By focusing on prevention programs for youth, the authors contend that the cycle can be broken. They also recommend that parents receive treatment from comprehensive programs.

The bulletin concludes with a call to promote prevention and treatment, document successful practices, expand model programs, cooperate among agencies, and fund collaborative programs that address the multiple needs of individuals, agencies, and communities on the local, State, and national levels.

Access Alcohol, Other Drugs, & Child Welfare online at:

Related Items

For descriptions of other new Clearinghouse acquisitions, see the Resources section in the current issue of the Children's Bureau Express.

Read about a new series of HHS grants to communities and local governments totaling $42.1 million to increase the availability of alcohol and drug abuse treatment services at:

Search the documents database of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information website for information related to substance abuse and child abuse (