Parental substance abuse and the impact on the young adults


Background: Many studies have highlighted the strong correlation that exists between parental substance abuse and a range of negative effects on the child’s health and welfare.

Specific types of problems have been identified among families where parental substance abuse occurs including insufficient and inadequate nurturing, absence of adequate supervision and monitoring, child abuse and neglect, psychological abuse and domestic violence.

Research findings are often contradictory and present different results regarding the impact of the parental comorbidity on the children and regarding the relations between the substance abuse, the mental disorders and other adverse experiences (such as parents death, divorce, domestic violence and abuse). While some studies have concluded that parental substance abuse has independent effects on adolescents’ mental disorders and harmful substance use, other research suggests that the greatest impact on the well-being of young people is related to a dysfunctional family structure irrespective of parental substance abuse.

This poster will focus on families with not only a parental substance abuse, but also mental disorder. What challenges do these families face and do the families share common characteristics? Moreover, what does the comorbidity mean for the children and their own use of substances and mental health?

Methods:The data is extensive with registers and two national representative surveys. The sample is identifying 10,434 young people in the age 15-25 born in the period 1989-2000 and hereof interviews with 5.800 young people. The register data comprises not only the young people but also on their parents (biological and social). The register data covers the period 1989-2015. The young people themselves identify the group of parents with substance abuse in the surveys by answering whether one or both of their parents have or have had a substance abuse. The parental mental disorders are identified in the National Psychiatric Register.

Results: The poster will present results concerning the group of parents with a substance use disorder, which has been in contact with the mental health services. Moreover, how is the association with parental comorbidity and the young people own mental problems (self-reported and/or mental diagnosis registered in the National Psychiatric Register) and problematic use of substances?

Conclusion: The study will contribute to an enhanced understanding of the challenges adolescents and young adult of parents with a comorbidity meet. It will help answering how the surrounding society in the educational system, social services and treatment institutions can meet the parents and the children.


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