A review published in the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment suggests how children whose parents have drug or alcohol problems can be protected from the consequences usually associated with parental substance misuse.
Drawing on research from around the world, the review highlights ways of reducing childrens exposure to risk and increasing the protective factors that promote the childs resilience.
"The children of people with drug or alcohol problems usually suffer very badly," said Professor Richard Velleman from the Mental Health R&D Unit (MHRDU), a collaboration between the University of Bath (UK) and the Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust.
"Conservative estimates suggest as many as 26 million people in the UK are affected by problematic alcohol and drug misuse in their immediate family.
"As a result, these family members are more likely to experience high levels of violence, witness or experience abuse, and suffer other disruptions to family life.
"Children whose parents misuse drugs or alcohol often demonstrate the negative effects of this through emotional difficulties, behavioural problems and social isolation.
"This can lead to depression and anxiety, or involve early drug or alcohol misuse and antisocial behaviour.
"Whilst it is easy to become pessimistic about the future of children brought up in these kinds on environments, we find in practice that some children are resilient; they develop no significant problems related to their parents substance misuse.
"We have looked through the research literature on this subject and drawn on our own research with more than 1,000 people whose families have been affected by substance misuse to find out why this might be, and how we can encourage similar results elsewhere."
The findings highlight the risk factors such as domestic violence, both parents being substance misusers, exposure to criminal act
Contact: Andrew McLaughlin
University of Bath