Supporting families of substance using, abusive young people

While it has long been known that substance abuse by young people was in some cases associated with parent abuse, there has been very little written about the connection. (eg Gallagher’s work)

A 2010 research report, entitled “Supporting families affected by substance use and domestic violence”, which has just been brought to my attention, goes some way to opening such a discussion. The report, by Dr. Sarah Galvani, sought to build the research base with two groups of family members whose needs have not been adequately recognised up to now: young people and Family Member Support Providers, (individuals personally affected and seeking to support others by semi-formal means). Initially it had been anticipated that these adults would be concerned with domestic violence between adult members of a household, but they were surprised to discover that they were in fact working with parents and grandparents affected by abuse from their children and grandchildren.

This is the first stage of a 2-part project between the University of Bedfordshire, Adfam and Stella Project. The second phase is the development of resources for, and with, children and young people. Its aims are stated as

* To explore the views and perspectives of family members of substance users on the relationship between alcohol, drugs and domestic abuse

* To develop practice and policy recommendations based on these findings and the wider literature

* To establish what support and resources family members need on these issues.

A number of important, and recognisable, issues have risen already, notably the fact that few people classed the trouble they faced as abuse, the way in which the behaviour was tolerated by parents as something they had to put up with, and the difficulties people found in disclosing the abuse. For the future there is a need for greater training for both substance use and domestic abuse violence agencies, who might not be looking for CPV and so might miss it. The nature of the connection between the two also needs further exploration. There is a recognition that some of these abusive children may also be victims within the household from other perpetrators. The full report can be found here.

A further Adfam / AVA project is now underway, exploring child-parent violence in families where the child uses substances. The report is to be launched in the next few months, to be followed by training England for both practitioners and commissioners.

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Filed under projects, Research

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