A Child Protection Social Worker’s View on Drugs

A Child Protection Social Worker’s View on Drugs

Posted On: May 24, 2011
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This week’s author is a Child Protection Social Worker who is based in South East England. He discusses sticking to the letter of drug policy in his job and how that sits with his own views and experiences. To protect his position and his family, he has chosen to remain anonymous.

I remember a conversation I had when I was 17. I was with some friends and we were discussing drugs and if when we were parents we would do them with our kids.

We were smoking a joint or maybe doing a pill. It was 1990 and I dabbled and experimented in the drugs of the time: weed, E, LSD. We thought ourselves enlightened.  The second summer of love had just happened. My contribution to the conversation was clear and I shocked myself as it tumbled out of my mouth; if I was ever a parent there is no way in hell my kid is going to do drugs with me and I would probably not even admit I had ever done them. Yeah I might allude to standing in fields and dancing around but I wouldn’t be specific.

I continued to dabble in drugs during my 20s and early 30s but I wasn’t serious and would only ever use them socially. Line at a middle class diner party anyone? I hated the comedown and preferred alcohol. What finally put paid to my intake of illicit substances was a double whammy of a responsible job and parenthood.

In my role as a child protection social worker I come across a lot of drug taking and in certain cases I even drug test parents by swabbing them.  I’d only do this if I think it is having a serious impact on their parenting and I need some evidence for court.  In these cases, I am talking about the serious stuff such as crack and heroin.

I think or maybe hope I am still holding onto some of my liberal views and think that parents who indulge in the odd joint or line are probably not going to seriously neglect or abuse their kids by doing so.

But I can’t tell these parents this.  They are breaking the law so I still have to wag a finger and tell them about the dangers of drugs: Just say no etc.   Though I do remind them that if they must use drugs, then not to leave their ‘stash’, or whatever they call it these, days where their kids might find it.


When you are in a position of authority there are times when you are a hypocrite but you have no choice. If I was to break rank and start telling people that actually, it is alright to do a bit of this, and line of that, I would get the sack, even though I don’t think it will generally have that much of an impact on their parenting. In child protection, the real problem drug is alcohol: it’s the catalyst to all kinds of abuse, neglect, domestic violence, etc. Do my own kids know that I drink? They sure do, and my toddler will often chat away to me about Daddy’s beer, but that’s all right because I say it is, and more importantly society says it is.