Fathers entering substance abuse treatment: An examination of substance abuse, trauma symptoms and parenting behaviors

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2012 Oct;43(3):335-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2011.12.012. Epub 2012 Feb 2.


Objective: The relationship between fatherhood and both psychiatric distress and severity of substance abuse (SA) among men entering SA treatment has not been well explored. This study was designed to (a) examine differences in symptoms of men presenting for SA assessment based on fatherhood status and (b) determine how posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and severity of SA were associated with parenting for men who were fathers.

Methods: PTSD symptoms, severity of SA, and parenting data reported on structured questionnaires were collected from 126 men presenting for an SA evaluation at a forensic drug diversion clinic.

Results: There were no differences in severity of alcohol or drug use between fathers and nonfathers; however, fathers with more PTSD symptoms reported greater severity of alcohol and drug use. Among the fathers, PTSD symptoms correlated significantly and positively with negative parenting behaviors, whereas SA did not. Fathers with more significant PTSD symptoms were more likely to want help with parenting.

Conclusions: Further exploration of the impact of trauma-related symptoms on the parenting behaviors of substance-abusing men is warranted.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Fathers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult