A Cochrane Review explored the most effective psychological interventions for parental substance use problems.
The review found that interventions which recognized parental needs in combination with the substance use problem were the most effective in reducing use.

The review analyzed 22 studies examining 24 psychosocial interventions. These interventions included:

  • Traditional alcohol and other drugs treatment services, such as intensive case management modified for a parent population; these modifications included outreach services or services that provided childcare whilst a parent went to addiction treatment services.
  • Interventions focusing on parenting style alone, such as the ‘Parents Under Pressure’ program which supports parents who use substances to understand how to be a better parent.
  • Interventions focusing on developing the relationship between the parent and their child.
  • Interventions combining both parenting intervention with alcohol and other drugs focused interventions.

In the review, the researchers found that neither the interventions which only focused on the alcohol or other drug problem of the parent nor the ones that focused on only developing parenting skills were useful.

The interventions which were useful and effective in reducing parental alcohol or other drug use were those that combined both developing parenting skills and addressing the substance use problem.

Those interventions that recognized the needs of the parent to develop their parenting skills but that also considered how they might make some change to their drug and alcohol use were the ones that were most effective at reducing of the frequency of alcohol use and drug use in the short and long term,” said Dr. Ruth McGovern, co-author of the review and a lecturer in Public Health at Newcastle University, as per SSA.

Dr. Ruth McGovern, co-author of the review, lecturer in Public Health, Newcastle University

Interestingly, the study found that interventions were more effective on fathers than mothers – even though the majority of the interventions studied were focused on women or women who were mothers.

Dr. McGovern explains the reasons for why this might be the case:

  1. Interventions targeting fathers were more intensive.
  2. Interventions targeting mothers mostly focused only on developing parenting skill which was not useful.
  3. The women in the studies were more vulnerable than the men.
    1. The women had previous experience of abuse, incarceration, homelessness and were lone parents and with a substance using partner.
    2. Meanwhile, the men were in employment and in a relationship with somebody who did not use alcohol or other drugs. This suggests that alcohol and other drug use problems may affect women more negatively.
  4. There is higher parenting pressure placed on mothers than fathers. This leads to more stigma and discrimination against mothers with alcohol and other drug use problems.

The review illustrates the importance of addressing parental alcohol and other drug use problems in a holistic way acknowledging both parenting needs as well as addressing alcohol and other drug use problems.

I would hope that people would take away the notion that it’s important to intervene with parents as parents and not just intervene with people who happen to be parents as individual drug and alcohol users,” said Dr. McGovern, as per SSA.

I think really appreciating the context in which the drug and alcohol use happens is very important. So, taking the example of mothers, it’s important to intervene within the context of them being a parent, but also to recognise that they have substance use needs too. So, it’s a combination of the factors.”

Dr. Ruth McGovern, co-author of the review, lecturer in Public Health, Newcastle University

Source Website: SSA