NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Study Finds Parental Substance Abuse A Factor In Child Abuse

January 12, 1999

Substance abuse is a factor in seven out of 10 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect, according to a two-year study presented by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

The researchers found that:

  • Reports of child abuse and neglect rose from 1.4 million in 1986 to more than 3 million in 1997.
  • Substance abuse costs $20 billion a year in child welfare services, lost productivity, health care and law enforcement needs.
  • The number of child deaths due to abuse and neglect grew from 798 in 1985 to 1,185 in 1996 -- of which nearly 80 percent of the victims were younger than five years.
  • As many as two-thirds of the deaths are due to substance- abusing parents.

Some 700,000 abused and neglected children spend time in foster care each year and only one in every four children available for adoption is adopted. Eighty-one percent of addicted parents uses alcohol with drugs, according to the report.

Sources: Jeanne Reid and Peggy Macchetto, "No Safe Haven: Children of Substance-Abusing Parents," January 1999, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 152 West 57th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10019, (212) 841-5200; Cheryl Wetzstein, "Parents' Addictions Cost Billions a Year," Washington Times, January 12, 1999.


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