Drug and alcohol abuse by Tower Hamlets parents and children soars

If you can hear child abuse taking place, you should report it, says Danielle Champ

If you can hear child abuse taking place, you should report it, says Danielle Champ - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Drug and alcohol abuse by children and their parents has significantly increased across Tower Hamlets over the past two years, according to a report. 

The research, based on an assessment of households by social workers, revealed that drug abuse by children had gone up by 74 per cent, from 140 cases to 243, between 2018 and 2020. 

Alcohol misuse by children saw an even bigger increase, up 92 per cent, from 48 cases to 92, during the same period. 

The number of parents abusing drugs and alcohol was also on the rise, with increases of 13 per cent (271 cases to 307) and 38 per cent (186 cases to 257) respectively. 

The shocking figures have been released by the UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) group and are based on recent Department for Education (DfE) statistics. 


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The DfE report shows the number of children across the country, who are in need due to the misuse of drugs or alcohol by their parents or themselves. 

Nuno Albuquerque, group treatment lead at UKAT, told the Advertiser: “In Tower Hamlets, the problem is worsening at an alarming rate, with the number of episodes where children are misusing alcohol being identified by social workers almost doubling.

Nuno Albuquerque, group treatment lead at UKAT

Nuno Albuquerque, group treatment lead at UKAT - Credit: UKAT

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“We must remember that these aren’t just numbers, they’re parents and children themselves who are misusing drugs, alcohol or even both behind closed doors, resulting in those children requiring further help."

“Our immediate concern now is how much worse their situations may have become since the Covid crisis."

Tower Hamlets Council said the data reflects the overall numbers of children in need and increases could be due to improvements in their ability to record issues, rather than an increase of the issue itself. 

A council spokesperson added: “We are committed to working in partnership to reduce the harms related to drug and alcohol misuse and have robust policies in place for early intervention, prevention and treatment which is underpinned by the Tower Hamlets Partnership Substance Misuse strategy.  

“We ensure delivery of dedicated programmes for families affected by substance misuse as well as drug and alcohol treatment for parents."

UKAT has put together free information on how children can help parents struggling with drug or alcohol abuse here.

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