This paper examines the impact of substance abuse on family functioning from two perspectives: children as victims of parental drug use and the family's role in preventing children's abuse of drugs and alcohol. The discussion addresses the health effects of parental substance abuse on the family in the form of prenatal exposure, environmental tobacco smoke, and injuries to children when parents are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The financial consequences of smoking and alcohol abuse, marital problems related to substance abuse, social isolation, and risk for domestic violence and child abuse also are reviewed. Parents can prevent substance abuse among children by demonstrating appropriate behavior and establishing rules for the family. Other prevention strategies include nurturing relationships with children, identifying risks, involving other adults in the lives of children, and seeking assistance from treatment programs and self-help groups.
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