Mothers and fathers in treatment for methamphetamine addiction—Parenting, parental stress, and children at risk in 2020

States Are Jailing Mothers for Drug Addiction and Taking Their Children  Away - The Atlantic


Parents addicted to methamphetamine (“crystal meth”) are likely to be impaired in meeting parental responsibilities, and the developmental settings can be highly disadvantageous for children. Therefore, parenting by methamphetamine‐addicted mothers and fathers needs further exploration, while considering the impact on children affected by parental substance use. In our study, we analyzed parenting practices and parental stress as well as children’s behavioral problems using standardized assessments. The sample consisted of 87 methamphetamine‐addicted parents in recovery. We obtained data on parents’ current substance use and on their psychological distress. Multiple regression analysis was performed to identify predictors of children’s overall problems.

Parents reported high levels of parental and psychological distress, even after achieving abstinence. Especially depressive perceptions of parenthood appeared problematic. While recovering from Buy meth online addiction, parents exhibited a precarious psychosocial situation and problematic parenting behavior. Dysfunctional parenting practices were evident in both indifferent and overactive tendencies. Children were at risk of behavioral and emotional problems. Variables associated with parenting showed significant predictive value for children’s overall problems, beyond current substance use, and psychological distress. These findings are discussed in terms of a family‐oriented perspective in order to promote parenting capabilities of methamphetamine‐addicted parents and to prevent problematic development of their children.


1.1 Methamphetamine‐involved families

When parents use illicit substances, their priorities frequently shift to the supply and consumption of these substances, while neglecting their social, familial, and especially parental responsibilities. Growing up in a family impacted by parental substance abuse includes a broad range of risk factors for involved children. Besides potential exposure to a prenatally toxic environment, often unfavorable socio‐economic living circumstances and social marginalization also constitute to be problematic (Klein, 2006). Furthermore, the relationship with the parent is frequently directly impacted through problematic parental behavior, neglect, maltreatment, and the resulting insecure attachment (Solis, Shadur, Burns, & Hussong, 2012). Additionally, family conflicts and intrafamilial violence are likely to shape the children’s living situation (Brown & Hohman, 2006; Walsh, MacMillan, & Jamieson, 2003). Affected children were found to be burdened by secrecy and denial of the parental problem, repeated experience of loss and separation, and role confusion and role reversal (Kroll, 2004). Therefore, children of these parents often exhibit social, intellectual, physical, and emotional problems (Solis et al., 2012). In the course of development, they are at risk of developing psychiatric disorders and their own substance abuse problems (Salo & Flykt, 2013; Solis et al., 2012).

The adverse situation of children living in methamphetamine‐involved families has become an emerging issue, especially within the past decade, due to the high levels of methamphetamine (also called “crystal meth”) addiction and trafficking throughout different countries and cultures such as North America, Oceania, Asia, and parts of Europe such as Germany and Czech Republic (Die Drogenbeauftragte der Bundesregierung, 2016; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2015, 2016). Although methamphetamine use has risen to become a global problem, in Germany, the use of the substance is especially prevalent in the border regions close to the Czech Republic. In the federal state of Saxony, for example, crystal meth is the most used illicit drug. Nearly one in four requests for outpatient substance use treatment refer to this stimulant (Sächsische Landesstelle Gegen Suchtgefahren e.V. 2018). Owing to the large numbers of female consumers in childbearing age accompanied by the substance’s sexually stimulating and disinhibiting effects, pregnancies, and parenthood are very common among these substance users (Milin, Lotzin, Degkwitz, Verthein, & Schaefer, 2014). Thus, there is an urgent need for research on children affected by their parents’ methamphetamine addiction and abuse.

Methamphetamine‐involved families in Germany are characterized by multiple and complex socio‐economic problems associated with drug addiction, such as unemployment, delinquency, incarceration, and financial debt. Furthermore, the parental situation tends to be aggravated by severe mental health problems, a history of trauma within the family of origin, or because of both parents using the substance (Dyba, Klein, & Wetzel, 2017). As a result, children frequently experience out‐of‐home placement at a young age.