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  of Public Health
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NOTE: as of April 17, 2007, the Free to Grow program has closed.
Research & Policy

Alcohol, anger and abuse: Understanding the relationship between alcohol and other drug abuse, and child abuse and neglect: Handbook for professionals
Stephen J. Bavolek

This handbook identifies the characteristics of child abuse and neglect, which sometimes occur in drug-abusing families. The author states that parents abuse and neglect children either as a reaction to the child or from an inability to cope with stress. Many parents who abuse their children were abused as children, and many are addicted to alcohol and other drugs because they are in pain or angry about their earlier experiences. The author asserts that service providers need to understand the connection between ATOD use, anger and abuse. Professionals rarely witness child abuse, so they need to be alert to the indicators of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in the children they serve. Treatment and prevention strategies can help break this cycle of anger, abuse, and ATOD use.

Positive interventions include implementing family-based prevention and education programs that stress drug information, heightening awareness of service providers regarding drug use, and improving communication skills. Negative interventions, such as scare tactics, "saying no" campaigns, responsible use education, and conflicting prevention messages (e.g. designated driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving) are not effective because they send mixed messages about alcohol and other drug use, do not provide positive substitutes, target too broadly, and often exaggerate or overmoralize. With greater understanding of the factors contributing to ATOD use and abuse and how to promote personal and community behavior changes, prevention and treatment programs will be more effective.

Family Development Resources, Inc.
3160 Pinebrook Road
Park City, UT 84098
(800) 688-5822 or (801) 649-5822
Fax (801) 649-9599
(1994, Order No. AAAH, 128 pp.; $20 + $7 p/h)


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Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.