Identifying and supporting children affected by parental substance misuse – Resource for schools

Adfam resource fullHow can schools identify and  support pupils affected by parental substance misuse?

This resource has been developed for the Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS) by Adfam,  the national umbrella organisation for those working with and for families affected by drugs and alcohol, and is intended to be a useful tool to help schools in safeguarding their pupils.

The purpose of this resource

When schools and teachers think about ‘drugs’, they may often initially focus on incidents on school grounds and how to respond to them, students at risk of using substances, or perhaps about drug education.

However, substance use can impact the lives of young people in many ways, especially if they are affected by problematic drug or alcohol use in their own homes. This resource aims to summarise the key issues for children affected by parental substance use, and how schools can consider supporting them.

It is aimed primarily at school governors and headteachers, but will also be relevant to members of staff with particular pastoral care duties, including school nurses, Education Welfare Officers, and anyone identified as a Designated Senior Person (DSP) for child protection in schools.

Key messages:

  • Parental substance use is not a problem that schools can ‘solve’ alone, nor is it an issue they should turn a blind eye to
  • Schools have both the responsibility and the ability to support  children affected by parental substance use
  • Safeguarding is a matter of child welfare, not drug and alcohol expertise
  • Existing structures/policies cover most of this work already, but added focus is needed


This briefing paper is part of a series produced by Mentor ADEPIS on alcohol and drug education and prevention, for teachers and practitioners.


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