This article explores the link between adult substance misuse and the effects such behaviour can have on children in their care. The implications for child development are considered. Child protection implications can be far reaching and children's longterm exposure to adult displays of behavioural loss of control can have detrimental effects upon their development. It is argued that parental substance misuse is not however, sufficient warrant to justify the child protection registration of children. This can act as an obstacle to enabling the parents to seek appropriate clinical intervention for their substance misuse problems (Standing Conference on Drug Abuse, 1989, now Drugscope). This article highlights the combined effect of these interactions on the development of children. Rather than an end in itself child protection assessment, with possible registration, should be viewed as a window of opportunity by agencies to respond to the needs of children with a range of possible responses dependent upon how serious the problems are.
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