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Documenting alcohol and other drug use

When you document a child’s and parent’s experiences, use language that is clear and respectful.  Work with the child and parents to develop clear worry and goal statements. 

Use words that are relevant to the family and give context, recognise the impacts of problematic alcohol and other drug use, and the actions being taken. Avoid jargon, labels and bureaucratic speak. Be curious. Notice what is happening. Record what you see and what you understand.

Don't document like this. Try and document like this.
Paula is a drug user. Paula drinks alcohol and smokes pot as a way of coping with her childhood trauma, which involved sexual abuse when she was 6. 
Paula uses drugs when her kids are asleep or at school. Paula smokes cannabis at night to cope with her pain, loneliness and her anxiety. She is slow to get started in the mornings because of the night before and because she can't stop her mind racing. She is agitated with her kids and reactive towards them as she gets them ready for school. She is thinking about having another smoke and managing how much she has left.
Paula leaves her children at home unsupervised while she and James go out to get ice and get high. James forces Paula to leave the children at home to get their ice. Although Paula does not want to, she knows if she says no, James will take it out on the kids.
Paula prostitutes herself to support her drug habit. James controls the money in the household and spends most of the money on heroin. When money is low he will not give Paula money to get food or supplies for the children. Paula reluctantly engages in sex work so that her kids have food and are looked after.

'When you use language that ‘conceals the context of violence, resistance, and responsibility’, you minimise the impact of these behaviours on families.'

(Coates and Wade, 2007).

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