Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is characterized by a person’s inability to control their use of legal or illegal substances in such a way that it impacts their health and day-to-day life. Substance abuse limits a parent’s ability to be positively involved in their children’s lives.  It can also lead to negative outcomes for parents and their children. Substance abuse can impact a person’s ability to make sound decisions; fulfill responsibilities in the home, workplace, and school; and maintain relationships.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that 25 million Americans struggle with substance abuse, and an estimated 8.7 million have children living in the home. An additional 40 million people are indirectly affected by substance use, including spouses, children, and friends. It is estimated that one-in-four children grow up in homes where substance abuse is present. These children are twice as likely to become addicted themselves, experience poor performance in school, exhibit emotional and behavioral problems, and be at a higher risk of physical, verbal, or sexual abuse.

This page provides tips and promising practices for dads struggling with substance abuse themselves, or if you are looking for ways to talk with your children about drugs and alcohol.… 

Tips & Best Practices

  • Looking for a free drug rehab or detox center, or have questions about what your insurance will cover? Use this tool from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to locate programs in your area.
  • Read about great examples to be inspired. In Praise and Support of Sober Dads is a blog post about the important role a father plays in contributing to his children’s happiness and stability. 
  • Talking to your children about the risk of drug and alcohol use is important, but it can be hard to know how and when to start the conversation. Check out some of these scenarios and scripts for practical advice on what to say to your child, no matter their age.
Spotlight On
Dads at a Disadvantage: The Intersection of Fatherhood and the Opioid Crisis

Joseph and children

I am a clinical pharmacist at the University of Florida Health Jacksonville, a member of Drug Free Duval, and chair of the healthcare education committee for the North Florida Heroin and Opioid Task Force. However, my most significant accomplishment is that I am a father to three wonderful children.

My passion for helping with the opioid crisis started many years ago while working with chronic pain patients. So, when I was asked to give the closing statement on fatherhood and the opioid crisis at the “Dads at a Disadvantage Community Conversation” co-hosted by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse on April 11, 2018, I thought, "this is right up my alley!"

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