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Abstract

In recent years drug abuse has been recognised as a growing problem in Northern Ireland. The following article examines the family backgrounds of a group of young children (n=388) who were looked-after by social services and looks specifically at a group (n=162) whose family lives have involved adults who misuse drugs. Children from drug-abusing families did not show greater levels of recorded abuse or neglect than the other children in the "looked after" population nor were they more likely to stay within the care system. However, the prevalence of heroin and cocaine use in this population was extremely small. Drug abuse in this population was found to be significantly associated with alcohol abuse, mental health problems and offending behaviour within the family. There was evidence of a reduction in drug abuse within families over a two year period of social work involvement.

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