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‘Drugs and Relationships Don’t Work’: Children’s and Young People’s Views of Substance Use and Intimate Relationships

Galvani, S (2013) ‘Drugs and Relationships Don’t Work’: Children’s and Young People’s Views of Substance Use and Intimate Relationships. Child Abuse Review, 24.

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Abstract

Responding effectively to children and young people's (CYP's) needs in relation to the overlapping issues of parental substance use (alcohol and other drugs) and domestic abuse requires an understanding of their perspectives and experiences. This study set out to explore the views of CYP on the impact of substance use on violent and abusive behaviours within intimate relationships in order to inform practice and policy development. Fourteen young people attended focus groups at three different specialist substance use support services for families in England. The results showed clear ambivalence about alcohol use in particular and its impact on violent and abusive behaviours. They did not blame substances for subsequent violent or abusive behaviour overall, however, the quantities and type of substances used were considered key to such behaviour. Most importantly, the CYP reported that getting help with substance problems does not automatically improve relationships, indeed, there are situations when pressure to change substance use can make relationships worse. The implications for social care practice are discussed.

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