Safety, belonging and wellbeing are at the heart of your work with families
Imagine not being fed when you are hungry. Imagine walking the streets because no one is watching you. Being in a car that’s going too fast and not being buckled in safely. Going to hospital because you drank your mum’s methadone. Having to move used needles to get to your toothbrush and toys. Not knowing where you will sleep each night or who will be at your house when you wake up. Not being able to wake your Mum up because she drank too much. Being left alone in the house because your Dad is out seeking drugs to use.
These are just some of the things that children living with parents with problematic alcohol and other drugs use might experience.
You will need to gain an understanding of how a parent’s alcohol and other drugs use impacts on their child. While your focus at this point needs to be on assessing immediate safety, this is only one of many opportunities to understand the child’s lived experience. Take time to build relationships, as they offer you the best chance of gaining a true understanding of how safe the child is.
Parents need your help to understand how their child experiences their alcohol and other drugs use. Work in partnership with them to create safety for their child. Be curious about what their alcohol and other drugs use means for them—what they like and do not like about using and how easy or hard it will be for them to change their patterns of use.
Remember, a person’s alcohol and other drugs use can be a way of coping or surviving. Take the time to listen to their story while observing their behaviour and holding back judgement.
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