n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Effect of the substance related disorder on family dynamics and subsequent child abuse

Volume 14, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



This article explores the effect of substances on family dynamics with specific reference to two in-depth, explorative case studies of substance affected families in Mitchells Plain. The family of a drug dependent parent faces economic problems, instability, and a lack of physical and emotional care. The children can expect limited care from a parent who cannot even provide for him/ herself. Substance abuse affects family relationships and causes a distortion of attitudes. The family life of the child in the drug dependent household may be characterised by an absence of money and a situation of continual neglect. Family involvement is often critical for the successful treatment of many substance-related disorders-most obviously in cases where elements of the family are inadvertently reinforcing or supporting the problem. Furthermore, contrary to popular opinion, many people with substance-related disorders maintain close ties with their families. Sometimes it is better to ensure that a parent with a substance misuse problem feels supported by the agency and that part of the work of the agency is to motivate the parent to seek help for a substance use problem. As always, the welfare of the children in these families is paramount and clinical sensitivity and common sense are essential.

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