Earlier this month, Public Health England launched a new toolkit containing data, guidance and other resources to help the professionals who support families affected by parental alcohol and drug problems.

It aims to support local areas in understanding the extent of the problem in their region. It will also assess whether local systems have sufficient processes, capacity, and resources to support the families affected by parental substance misuse.

According to the Children’s Commissioner for England’s data on childhood vulnerability, there were 478,000 children living with a parent with “problem drug or alcohol use” in 2019 to 2020. This is a rate of 4 per 100.

While parents make up 50% of people starting alcohol and drug treatment each year, many more are still in need of support. Data shows that, in England, around 80% of alcohol dependent parents are not receiving treatment, and 60% of parents who are dependent on heroin are not receiving treatment.

Recent research also suggests that alcohol and drug use is a major factor in cases of child maltreatment. Department for Education statistics show that in 2019 to 2020, a parent’s use of drugs was a factor in 17% of child in need cases, and parental alcohol use was a factor in 16% of cases.

The new toolkit identifies collaborative assessment, information sharing and clear pathways between systems and services as vital in identifying and supporting the families affected by drug and alcohol use.

It also asks commissioners and service providers to be mindful of the stigma attached to social work involvement in family life, along with other barriers to engagement. Peer-to-peer support for both children and adults should be a valuable part of the recovery process too.

Included in the toolkit is a list of useful resources including research reports, frameworks, and websites.

One of our charity partners, Nacoa (National Association for the Children of Alcoholics), is featured on the list of resources.

Piers Henriques, Head of Communications at Nacoa said: “This new toolkit from Public Health England is a good start at creating a space in public policy for children affected by their parent’s drinking. With some support, we can help young people to empower themselves with understanding that will help them to make healthy choices in the future and break the cycle of addiction.”

AlphaBiolabs provide a variety of legal testing services including drug and alcohol testing for organisations involved in child welfare and family law. To find out more, please get in touch with our Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email

We recently launched our Giving Back campaign. Throughout 2021, we will make a £5 donation for every legal instruction we receive from local authorities and the legal sector to support four wonderful charities that work closely with some of the UK’s most vulnerable children and families, including Nacoa.