Mental Health

Substance Use Disorder and Recovery

Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol or drugs causes clinically significant impairment. This can include health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home. Recent statistics show that up to 12% of children under 5 years old live with at least one parent with an alcohol or substance use disorder (SAMHSA NSDUH, 2009–14).

When a parent has a substance use disorder, it can have negative effects on their children and family functioning. Children who live with a parent with a substance use disorder are at increased risk of experiencing other challenges, such as mental illness, poverty, domestic violence, academic problems, abuse, and neglect. Head Start programs can support families in recovery in a number of ways. Explore the resources below for strategies around providing families access to referrals for substance use treatment, mental health services, and parenting classes. Learn about safety and structure for children and families and how to offer non-judgmental support.