Half of all adults new to treatment for drug dependency are parents, so the NTA is leading initiatives to protect families, and especially children, from the negative impact of drug misuse.
Becoming a parent is the spur for many drug users to seek treatment and stop using drugs. Much of the problem behaviour linked to drug or alcohol use can reduce a person's ability to be an effective parent. For the children involved, having a parent in treatment can be a protective factor.
The aim of all those working with drug users who are parents is to maximise the opportunities for families with multiple problems to get the right sort of support. Treatment provides a platform for drug-dependent parents, or those living with children, to stabilise their lives – which can have a positive impact on their families.
Joint guidance on developing local protocols between drug and alcohol treatment services and local safeguarding and family services has been developed by the NTA and the Department for Education (formerly the Department for Children, Schools and Families).
The NTA is now leading new activity to embed good practice in working with drug-dependent parents within local treatment systems. This will encourage services to be more consistent and collaborative, and to take account of the needs of the whole family, and particularly children.
NTA families manager Anna Hemmings says this work will include assessing the progress made in establishing local protocols among safeguarding and family services in all drug treatment partnerships. "We aim for every local area to have a protocol and accompanying programme of activity in place so that drug services work with other local services and families themselves to ensure they get the help they need," says Anna. "The NTA will support drugs partnerships in determining their local priorities for drug misusing parents, and provide good practice examples on how to improve positive outcomes for families and users."
The recovery-oriented vision to replace the current framework, Models of Care for Treatment of Adult Drug Misusers, which the NTA is developing with its partners, is an opportunity to make sure that drug treatment systems embed at a local level the idea of putting families first.