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Parental heavy drinking: an elephant in the room?

Date:24 AUG 2012

Peter G Booth

Clinical Psychologist and Visiting Profesor University of Liverpool:

Heavy drinking by parents who are involved in child care proceedings is a common problem and the acute and chronic impact on parenting provision can be significant and at times catastrophic. The histories of 100 such parents assessed within proceedings reveal complex social psychological and physical issues that are often related to alcohol.

Alcohol-related input into professional training courses is neither mandatory nor remotely commensurate with the likelihood of coming across a heavy drinker in any post-qualification caseload. On occasions it is completely absent. This training deficit might underlie the commonly encountered dearth of systematic assessment of drinking and related problems within documentation filed at court. Enhanced training would increase the confidence of non-specialist professionals to undertake assessment and intervention thereby reducing reliance on laboratory testing and onward referral to specialist alcohol services. It would also in the author’s opinion be of assistance to magistrates and judges.

In light of...

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