More than 620,000 parents in the United States with opioid use disorder are living with children under 18 years, and only a third of them received treatment for substance use. Four million parents even have other substance use disorders, with lower treatment rates.
Researchers from the Urban Institute analyzed data from the 2015 to 2017 National Survey of Drug Use and Health, a nationally representative cross-sectional survey. They found that the rate of opioid use disorder among parents living with a child under 18 years of age was 0.9%, or an estimated 623,000 parents. Of these, 42% had one or more other substance use disorders in addition to opioid use disorder.
‘Substance abuse among parents could affect the child's health in a negative way. This could be reduced by early screening and diagnosis of abuse, change in the behavior, and timely initiation of treatment.’
Among parents living in households with children, 6%, or an estimated 4.2 million parents, had substance use disorders that did not include opioids. More than one in five parents with opioid use disorder had suicidal thoughts and behavior and nearly 25% had serious mental illness, a higher rate of mental health problems than parents with other substance use disorders.
Twenty-eight percent of parents with opioid use disorder received drug or alcohol treatment at a specialty facility or other doctor's office, compared to 6% of those with other substance use disorders.
Primary care practices can play a critical role in addressing substance use disorder issues among parents, the authors state, including screening and diagnosing substance use disorders, motivating behavior change, and facilitating initiation of treatment.