Substance-abusing mothers and disruptions in child custody: an attachment perspective

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2006 Apr;30(3):197-204. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2005.11.008.


Using an attachment framework, we examined (1) whether substance-abusing mothers' perceptions of how they were parented were related to the severity of their substance abuse and psychological maladjustment and (2) whether these two factors mediated the association between mothers' perceptions of how they were parented and their children's placement out of home. There were 108 mothers of 248 children who completed interviews upon admission to a methadone maintenance program for women. Measures included lifetime risk composite scores derived from the Addiction Severity Index, the Parental Bonding Instrument, and a demographics questionnaire. A multilevel modeling approach was used to model effects of the hierarchically organized data (e.g., children nested within families). Findings are consistent with an attachment perspective on parenting suggesting that the internal psychological processes of a parent play a critical role in the continuity of parenting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Child Custody*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Connecticut
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Models, Psychological
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders*