Drug and alcohol abuse and families

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Drug and alcohol abuse and families in the AIFS library catalogue

Australian drinkers who harm others : a snapshot.

Callinan S and Michael Livingston
Laslett, Anne-Marie, ed. Room, Robin, ed. Waleewong, Orratai, ed. Stanesby, Oliver, ed. Callinan, Sarah, ed. Harm to others from drinking : patterns in nine societies. Geneva: World : World Health Organization, 2019. 9789241515368: 31-43
This book highlights the human costs of alcohol not just for drinkers but for those around them. It presents and compares national surveys on the harms from others' drinking in Thailand, Chile, India, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. This chapter presents the results for Australia, noting earlier research and analysing data from the Australian Harm to Others Survey and the National Drug and Alcohol Strategy Household Survey. Total alcohol consumption in Australia is slightly above average among high-income countries and abstention rates are low. The survey findings look at the age, gender, and relationship characteristics of harmful drinkers and people who are harmed by the drinking of others, as well as alcohol consumption rates and patterns. Though most harmful drinkers were non-household family members and friends of victims, victims who were in the same household as as harmful drinkers were substantially more likely to report a higher severity of harm.

How to support caregivers and families living with FASD

McLean S
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2019.
Written for practitioners in child, family, adult, and health services, this paper highlights the likely impacts of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) on families and the types of supports they find helpful. It provides information on parents' and carers' experiences of supporting a child living with FASD, their relationships with professionals, and their support needs. Stable caregiving has been identified as a significant protective factor for children living with FASD and practitioners can play a key role in helping to support parents. This paper is the fourth in a series about working with families affected by FASD.

How to support children living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

McLean S
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2019.
Written for practitioners in child, family, adult, and health services, this paper outlines the diverse neurocognitive challenges frequently faced by children living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). It highlights some of the ways these differences may impact on children's learning, behavioural and social development, and outlines the general principles for supporting children. This paper is the third in a series about working with families affected by FASD. Children who are affected by prenatal alcohol exposure may experience one or more significant neurocognitive difficulties in one or more areas of development. Although the underlying cognitive difficulties related to FASD cannot be reversed, practitioners can support children by helping to create a better 'fit' between a child's ability and their social and learning environment, through universal and targeted approaches.

Understanding the impacts of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) on child mental health

McLean S
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2019.
Written for practitioners in child, family, adult, and health services, this paper highlights what is known about the association between Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and common mental health difficulties in children and young people. This paper is the second in a series about working with families affected by FASD. Sections include: What is FASD?; How does FASD affect a child's life?; How common is FASD?; What is the link between FASD and risk of mental health concerns?; Other difficulties commonly associated with FASD; and Key challenges for service providers. Although the underlying cognitive difficulties related to FASD cannot be reversed, practitioners can take steps to minimise its impact on children and families over time by providing tailored and consistent support.

What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?

McLean S
Hilton, S. Aust. : Emerging Minds, 2019.
Written for practitioners in child, family, adult and health services, this paper highlights the significance of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and its impacts on children's lives. It explains the nature of FASD, its causes, likely impacts on child development, and the challenges faced by children living with FASD. Although the underlying cognitive difficulties related to FASD cannot be reversed, practitioners can take steps to minimise its impact on children and families over time by providing tailored and consistent support. This paper is the first in a series about working with families affected by FASD.

Close to home: young people and the impact of alcohol and drug use by family and peers : a 2018 Youth Survey report

Mission Australia
Sydney, NSW : Mission Australia, 2019.
This report looks at how many young people are affected by their friends' and families's drug use and the impact it has on their aspirations and wellbeing. It analyses findings from the 2018 Youth Survey, which involved 28,286 young people aged 15-19 years old. Nearly three in ten of these young people reported that alcohol and drugs was a problem for their family and peers, and these young people were found to be less likely to want to go on to university or travel after school, less likely to report feeling confident, happy or positive about the future, and more likely to have concerns about mental health and coping with stress. In response, the report presents recommendations for services and policies to better help these at risk young people.

Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019.
Every year in Australia, millions of years of healthy life are effectively lost because of injury, illness or premature deaths: the 'burden of disease'. This report provides estimates of the total, non-fatal and fatal burden for the Australian population in 2015, using the disability-adjusted life years (DALY) measure. DALY estimates are presented for more than 200 diseases and conditions - including mental health and injuries - as well as estimates of the burden attributable to more than 30 risk factors, such as tobacco use and physical inactivity. Comparisons are included for males and females, across age groups, and against the 2003 and 2011 report findings. The methodology is also discussed. A particular finding is that 38% of the estimated burden could have been prevented by addressing lifestyle risk factors.

Adverse childhood experiences and school readiness outcomes: results from the Growing Up in New Zealand study

University of Auckland. Centre for Social Data Analytics, New Zealand. Ministry of Social Development
Wellington N.Z. : Ministry of Social Development, 2019.
This report explores the association between adverse experiences in early childhood and later school readiness, using data from the 'Growing Up in New Zealand' longitudinal study. Adverse experiences include exposure to maltreatment and experiencing parental divorce, family abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, or incarceration, while school readiness was measured with a range of cognitive development tests. The study found that adverse childhood experiences were common in this group: by 54 months old, nearly 53% had experienced at least one adverse experience and 2.6% had experienced 4 or more. These adverse experiences were consistently associated with family income, deprivation, mother's education and age, and partner's age. The study also found a clear dose-response association between adverse experiences and school readiness.

A large proportion of poor birth outcomes among Aboriginal Western Australians are attributable to smoking, alcohol and substance misuse, and assault.

Gibberd A, Simpson J, Jones J, Williams R, Stanley F and Eades S
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth v. 19 2019: Article 110
This article investigates possible factors for why Aboriginal infants have poorer birth outcomes than non-Aboriginal infants in Western Australia. Using linked administrative data for Aboriginal infants born from 1998 to 2010 and their parents, the article examines the three negative birth outcomes of small for gestational age, preterm birth, and perinatal death. Factors such as maternal substance use, long-term health, assault during pregnancy, and infections during pregnancy were studied. The study found that 27% of the infants had at least one of the three negative birth outcomes, and 51% of the infants had been exposed to in utero exposure to maternal smoking, alcohol misuse, drug misuse, and assault against their mother. However, these are modifiable risk factors so great improvement in the health of Aboriginal infants is possible.

'Are they shouting because of me?': voices of children living in households with domestic abuse, parental substance misuse and mental health issues

Great Britain. Office of the Children's Commissioner
London : Children's Commissioner for England, 2018.
This report looks at life growing up under the 'toxic trio' of mental health, parental substance misuse, and domestic abuse. It presents findings from interviews with 15 children and young people in England about their experiences of living in households with these three issues, including how it affected their emotional wellbeing, school life and relationships with friends, and the ways in which they attempted to cope. Though the participants revealed the problems of living with high levels of tension and unpredictability at home, and about an evolving sense of shame and growing up quickly, they were also very clear about how much they loved and trusted their parents and the great lengths they went not to tell others for fear of being separated.

Impact of FIFO work arrangements on the mental health and wellbeing of FIFO workers

Parker S and Fruhen L
Perth, W.A. : WA Mental Health Commission, 2018.
The mental health and wellbeing of the sizeable 'fly in fly out' workforce in Western Australia is of great concern. This study was instigated by a 2015 Parliamentary Inquiry which called for further independent research into this issue. In particular, the study investigates the mental health impacts and benefits of FIFO work arrangements on workers and their families, harmful drinking and drug use by workers and its impact on mental health, and the positive and negative coping strategies employed by workers and their families. For this study, mental health includes issues of psychological distress, 'thwarted belonging', 'perceived burdensomeness', suicidality, burnout and mental exhaustion, and emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. Bullying, sleep, and physical pain were also considered. The study involves a review of the literature, a comparison of general population studies against a survey of 3,108 FIFO workers, surveys of 373 partners and 487 former FIFO workers, a longitudinal study of 205 FIFO workers, and qualitative interviews with 24 FIFO workers and 16 family members and friends. This report presents the findings and recommendations of the study. It concludes with actions for organisations and individual FIFO workers and their families to improve mental health.

2015 Department of Defense Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS)

Meadows S
Santa Monica, CA : RAND Corporation, 2018.
The Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS) is the U.S. Department of Defense's flagship survey for understanding the health and well-being of active service members. Originally implemented to assess substance use 30 years ago, it now covers mental and physical health, sexual behaviour, and postdeployment problems, and features factors from all eight 'Total Force Fitness' (TFF) domains. This report presents the findings and methodology of the 2015 survey. Information is included on personnel characteristics, marital and parental status, housing, weight, energy drinks, physical activity, use of alternative medicine, sleep health, alcohol and smoking, illicit and prescription drug abuse, sexual assault, suicidality and self harm, use of mental health services, social and emotional factors associated with mental health, chronic conditions, physical symptoms, sexual risk behaviours, unintended pregnancy, contraception use, sexual orientation and transgender identity, combat experiences, and deployment-related injuries. Trends and policy implications are also considered.

Improving lives - helping workless families: indicators 2018

Great Britain. Dept. for Work and Pensions
London : Dept. for Work and Pensions, 2018.
In 'Improving lives - helping workless families', the British Government sets out proposals to improve outcomes for children who grow up in workless families. The policy was supported by a strong evidence base, published in an 'analysis and research pack' featuring the latest research and a set of nine indicators to track progress in tackling disadvantage. This new 2018 report updates the indicators with the latest data. The indicators cover the prevalence of parental conflict, entrenched worklessness, poor parental mental health, family breakdown, homelessness, problem debt, drug and alcohol dependency, children's educational attainment, and youth participation in education, employment, or training.

The mental health of sons and daughters of Australian Vietnam veterans.

O'Toole B, Dadds M, Outram S and Catts S
International Journal of Epidemiology v. 47 no. 4 Aug 2018: 1051-1059
Research has found that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in combat veterans increases the risk of PTSD in their children, but are these children at significantly higher risk than the general population, and are they at risk of having other mental health problems? This article investigates the mental health of adult children of Australian Vietnam veterans, drawing on a survey of 133 sons and 182 daughters from a cohort of 179 veteran families. It examines exposure to different types of trauma, prevalence of mental illness, and suicidality, as compared with the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. The study finds that the children of veterans were more likely than the general population to report exposure to traumas such as natural disasters, fire, explosions, or transport accidents, with veteran's sons more likely to report exposure to toxic chemicals and veteran's daughters more likely to report sexual assault. Higher prevalences of alcohol and drug dependence, depression and anxiety, and PTSD were also reported.

Consequences of bullying victimization in childhood and adolescence : a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Moore S, Norman R, Suetani S, Thomas H, Sly P and Scott J
World Journal of Psychiatry v. 7 no. 1 2017: 60-76
This article reviews the literature on the association between being bullied in childhood or adolescence and a range of adverse health and psychosocial problems at any age, including depression, anxiety, poor mental health, poor general health, self-injury, suicide, smoking, and illicit drug use. In particular, it assesses the strength of evidence for a causal relationship in this association. The findings show there is strong evidence that bullying victimisation causes mental health problems.

Improving lives - helping workless families: analysis and research pack

Great Britain. Dept. for Work and Pensions
London : Dept. for Work and Pensions, 2017.
In 'Improving lives - helping workless families', the British Government sets out proposals to improve outcomes for children who grow up in workless families. This document presents the strong evidence base that underpins that policy paper. It combines the latest research with new insights from survey and administrative data, and was created by leading academics, analysts, and policy-makers across government as well as local authorities and front-line workers. Part one focuses on children in workless families, setting out the evidence behind some of the issues associated with persistent worklessness, how these disadvantages are often connected with other factors, and how they impact on children's outcomes. Part two presents nine national indicators, with supporting measures, to track progress in tackling the disadvantages that affect families and children's outcomes. These include the prevalence of parental conflict, entrenched worklessness, poor parental mental health, family breakdown, homelessness, problem debt, drug and alcohol dependency, children's educational attainment, and youth participation in education, employment, or training.

Improving lives: helping workless families

Great Britain. Dept. for Work and Pensions
London : Dept. for Work and Pensions, 2017.
In this publication, the British Government sets out proposals to improve outcomes for children who grow up in workless families and face multiple disadvantages. It draws on new analysis on the stark difference in outcomes between children in workless families and those in lower-income working families, with workless families considerably more likely to experience problems with their relationships, have poor mental health, and be in problem debt. This Government will help these families by expanding the Troubled Families Programme, launching new local-level interventions to reduce parental conflict, and targeting at risk parents with complex issues or substance dependency through the welfare system. The first section sets out the case for change, based on the evidence on parental worklessness. The next section explains the steps for action, before concluding with a section on how progress will be monitored.

The first thousand days: an evidence paper

Moore T, Arefadib N, Deery A and West S
Parkville, Vic. : Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, 2017.
This paper synthesises current Australian and international evidence on the biological, social, global, and environmental influences on child development. It examines the impact of early experiences in the 'first thousand days' on all aspects of development and functioning, including physical health and wellbeing, mental health, social functioning, and cognitive development, as well as the underlying determinants of health. Experts have long been aware that the period from conception to age 2 is an important period of development, but researchers have only recently started to unlock the processes by which genes, experiences, and environments interact to influence development. This paper is part of the 'Strong Foundations: Getting it Right in the First 1000 Days' collaborative project.

Adult drug and alcohol problems, children's needs : an interdisciplinary training resource for professionals - with practice and assessment tools, exercises and pro formas

Barlow J, Hart D and Powell J
London : National Children's Bureau, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2016.
Parental drug use can cause serious harm to children. [This book] supports practitioners in their work with families where parental drug use leads to concerns about children's welfare. The training resource contains: summaries of the key messages for practitioners; tools and tips to support effective practice; training and development activities; practice examples from around the UK. This second edition has an increased focus on alcohol misuse and reflects recent changes to both policy and practice [in the United Kingdom]. The book will be useful for all individuals and agencies involved with families where parents are struggling with substance abuse ..."

The economic cost of the social impact of natural disasters

Deloitte Access Economics, Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities
Australia : Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities, 2016
This report is one of a series commissioned by the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities on the full impact of natural disasters on communities and the economy and the extent to which expenditure on mitigation and resilience measures is effective. This report investigates the economic cost of the social impacts following natural disasters - not just tangible costs like damage and disruption, but intangible costs such as death, injury and impacts on wellbeing, relationships, and connectedness. Indeed, though social impacts are complex, interrelated, and difficult to quantify, there is clear evidence they account for a substantial part of the total economic cost of natural disasters. The report concludes with recommendations in the form of strategies to help to reduce the long term impacts and costs of future natural disasters, re-affirming those made throughout the series.

Engaging young people: using the pathways young people take in and out of homelessness as the foundation for a person centred service culture

Johnson G, Cook K and Sesa S
Melbourne : Melbourne City Mission, 2016.
This report was commissioned to examine young people's access to and use of homelessness services, to help inform the work Melbourne City Mission. It investigates young people's pathways into the homelessness service system, their service histories and experiences, which services and programs most effectively facilitated positive outcomes, and the capacity of services to take family context and connections into account when addressing homelessness. The reports draws on 45 in-depth interviews with people aged 16-24 years old, with follow-up interviews with 26 of the original participants six months later. Of the 45 initial participants, most were single, one quarter had been in out-of-home care, nearly two thirds had received treatment for mental health issues, and over a third reported problematic substance use. The report identifies patterns of service use, patterns of outcomes, and the implications for policy and practice.

Child aware practice in adult social services : a scoping review.

Tilbury C, Walsh P and Osmond J
Australian Social Work v. 69 no. 3 2016: 260-272
The development of 'child aware' practice is about the capacity and capability of adult health and social service providers to identify and respond to the needs of children. A scoping review of the literature considered five adult adversities associated with family stress and reduced parenting capacity: mental illness, alcohol and substance abuse, homelessness, intellectual disability, and domestic violence. Although there are specific needs for children pertaining to particular adversities, there was substantial commonality of potential effects. These included emotional and psychological difficulties, physical and mental health problems, academic difficulties, language delays, peer difficulties, stigma, trauma reactions, loss and grief, instability, and social exclusion. How children react to difficulties in their family depends upon various protective factors, a child's frame of reference, and other dynamics within the family that can offset risks. The findings aim to inform policy, program development, and practice in adult social services, enhancing their responsiveness to children. (Journal article)

What is the prevalence of risk-taking behaviours in the children of former or current military personnel?: a rapid evidence assessment

Wilks S and Muir S
Canberra, A.C.T. : Dept. of Veterans' Affairs, 2015.
Two recent studies suggested that the children of Vietnam veterans in Australia have relatively high rates of accidental death: to account for this, the authors wondered whether military-connected children may have a particular propensity to engage in risky behaviour. In light of these studies, this literature review investigates whether this is indeed the case. It synthesises and assesses the evidence on the prevalence of risk-taking behaviour in children of former and current military personnel, focusing on the following specific behaviours that carry an immediate or near immediate risk of harm or are proxies of such behaviour: high-risk drinking, illicit drug use and pharmaceutical misuse, dangerous driving, unsafe sex, crime, delinquency, and school absenteeism. The review utilises the 'Rapid Evidence Assessment' (REA) methodology developed for the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) by Phoenix Australia - the Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health. Overall, the review found that no conclusions can be drawn as to whether there is a meaningful difference between the propensity of military and non-military offspring to engage in such risk-taking behaviour, and that further research is required. Note, the review is presented in 3 parts: a technical paper, a summary paper, and an evidence profile.

Children impacted by parental substance abuse : an evaluation of the Supporting Kids and Their Environment Program.

Lewis A, Holmes N, Watkins B and Mathers D
Journal of Child and Family Studies v. 24 no. 8 Aug 2015: 2398-2406
The Supporting Kids And Their Environment (SKATE) program was a child-focused, psycho-educative group intervention run by Glastonbury Community Services from 2006 to 2010 in Geelong, Victoria. The program aimed to ameliorate the impacts of parental substance abuse on child development and family functioning. This article presents the findings of a service evaluation of the program, which involved 89 families within 13 intervention groups.

'High'-school : the relationship between early marijuana use and educational outcomes.

Cobb-Clark D, Kassenboehmer S, Le T, McVicar D and Zhang R
Economic Record v. 91 no. 293 Jun 2015: 247-266
We use unique survey data linked to nearly a decade of administrative income support data to examine the relationship between early marijuana use (at age 14 or younger) and young people's educational outcomes. We find evidence that early marijuana use is related to educational penalties that are compounded by high-intensity use and are larger for young people living in families with a history of income support receipt. The relationships between marijuana use and both high school completion and achieving a university entrance score appear to stem from selectivity into the use of marijuana. In contrast, early marijuana use is associated with significantly lower university entrance scores for those who obtain one, and we provide evidence that this effect is unlikely to be driven by selection. Collectively, these findings point to a more nuanced view of the relationship between adolescent marijuana use and educational outcomes than is suggested by the existing literature. (Journal article)

Challenges in the family : problematic substance use and sibling relationships.

Incerti L, Henderson-Wilson C and Dunn M
Family Matters no. 96 2015: 29-38
This article explores the lived experience of having a sibling with a problematic substance use issue, and how this affects the adult sibling relationship. It discusses findings from interviews with 13 women, highlighting themes of trust and secrecy, protectiveness, despair and frustration, and being overlooked and 'not validated'. The findings have implications for family therapy and support services.

Children and relationship factors.

Alexander R
Australian master family law guide. 7th ed. Sydney : CCH Australia, 2015. 9781925091281: 279-316
Written for lawyers, counsellors, finance industry professionals, and students, this reference guide explains legislation, relevant case law, and legal procedures in Australian family law. This chapter reviews common issues that may rise in children's matters before the family court and in dispute resolution. It provides advice on taking instructions and questioning clients, and reviews the legal implications of gambling, parental drug use, mental health issues, family violence, child abuse, and parental alienation syndrome.

Aetiology of coexisting mental health and alcohol and other drug disorders : perspectives of refugee youth and service providers.

Posselt M, Procter N, Galletly C and De Crespigny C
Australian Psychologist v. 50 no. 2 Apr 2015: 130-140
Though the research is limited, young refugees are considered to be a particularly vulnerable group for mental health and substance abuse comorbidity. This article investigates the social and psychosocial factors related to being a young person from a refugee background that lead to the development of such comorbidity. Interviews were conducted with 15 refugee youth - aged 12 to 25 years old - and 15 service providers in a disadvantaged region of Adelaide, South Australia, regarding pre-migration experiences of torture and trauma; familial factors of intergenerational conflict; post-migration adjustment difficulties in terms of language, culture, education, and employment; exposure to and availability of substances; maladaptive coping strategies and self-medication; and access to information and services. The findings highlight the interrelated nature of risk factors.

Policy options paper: preventing alcohol-related family and domestic violence

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education
Deakin West, ACT : Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, 2015.
Written for Australian governments, this paper proposes a range of policies and programs for the prevention of alcohol-related family and domestic violence, based around a public health model of prevention. This is not a final draft and further input from people with an interest in this area is welcomed. It discusses definitions and concepts, domestic violence and alcohol, child maltreatment and alcohol, primordial and primary prevention, secondary and tertiary prevention, and data collection and evaluation. Note, this paper was used to develop the 'National framework for action to prevent alcohol-related family violence', which was presented to government in June 2015.

The hidden harm: alcohol's impact on children and families

Laslett A, Mugavin J, Jiang H, Manton E, Callinan S, MacLean S and Room R
Deakin West, ACT : Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education, 2015.
This report investigates the impact of alcohol drinking on family members, including parents and children. Drawing on a range of sources, including the 2008 Harm to Others (HTO) Survey and a 2011 follow-up survey by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, the report examines the prevalence and impact of heavy drinking on families and children in Australia, whether impacts differ by relationship and living arrangements, and the extent to which impacts persist or change over time. The report also investigates what services are available for families and children and what types of service and policy interventions are likely to improve the situations of those affected by others' drinking. The findings shows that heavy drinking can be linked to a range of negative effects on children and families, including modelling of poor drinking behaviours, family arguments, injury, neglect, abuse, and violence. The data shows that alcohol abuse is associated with a significant number of child abuse cases and domestic violence incidents in Australia each year.
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