Sharon Greenwood

Sharon GreenwoodSharon Greenwood, University of Glasgow

Working Title: ‘On Your Own Without a Net’?: Experiences of young adults affected by parental substance use

Supervisors: Dr. Lucy Pickering, Prof. Mhairi Mackenzie, Mrs Joy Barlow MBE

Funding Body: ESRC


Problematic alcohol and drug use continues to be one of Scotland’s biggest social issues. Between 1990 and 2000, a surge of social research presented findings demonstrating the harm caused to children as a result of problematic parental substance use. In 2003, the publication of a UK government commissioned report, ‘Hidden Harm’ (ACMD, 2003), placed this issue firmly on the child protection agendas for both Scottish and UK governments. Despite this, research continues to report that children and young people are being adversely affected by problem drug and alcohol use within the home. Recent research undertaken by Alcohol Focus Scotland (Hope et al, 2013) found that 1 in 3 adults surveyed reported having heavy drinkers in their lives, and it is estimated that over 51,000 children in Scotland are currently living with a problem alcohol using parent. What is unclear is the impact that problem substance use (PSU) has upon young adult children, aged between 16 and 25 years of age, and the impact it can have upon transitions to adulthood in an age of austerity.

Building upon research by Bancroft et al (2004) looking at young adults affected by parental substance use, this research seeks to contribute to the field by deepening our awareness of the issues faced by these young people. Through open-ended, loosely structured, narrative interviews, a visual depiction of each of young person’s life histories and map of their relationships is constructed – helping to highlight the intricate journey being taken to adulthood, whilst helping to present the integral complex web of intimate relationships. What is the impact of being a young adult in Scotland, when your parent or guardian has used substances problematically?

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