Drug-abusing fathers: patterns of pair bonding, reproduction, and paternal involvement

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2007 Oct;33(3):295-302. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2006.12.010. Epub 2007 Feb 22.


Despite concerns about compromise of fathering as a public policy issue, very little is known about the status of drug-abusing men as parents. In this pilot study, 50 men enrolled in methadone maintenance treatment completed a structured research interview designed to generate basic information about patterns of pair bonding, reproduction, and paternal involvement. Descriptive analysis of these data highlighted a number of trends in the nature of fathering that, although at odds with popular stereotypes, were similar to trends noted in research conducted with other populations of disenfranchised men. Consistent with a developmental-ecological perspective on parenting, the findings suggest that historical and situational influences interact within this population to compromise socially responsible efforts to function as a parent. The results also raise questions about the extent to which public policy initiatives designed to promote more responsible fathering are reaching this population, and they highlight ways that the drug abuse treatment system might better support men interested in being a more effective parent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Family Health
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Methadone / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Paternal Behavior*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Public Policy
  • Reproduction


  • Methadone