Call now in confidence immediate help & advice 24/7

0800 088 66 86

International: +44 330 333 6197

The Risks of Substance Misuse Amongst the UK’s Foster Children [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted on June 5, 2023

The Risks of Substance Misuse Amongst the UK’s Foster Children [INFOGRAPHIC]

Below, we designed an infographic to highlight the risks of substance misuse amongst foster children living in the United Kingdom.

The purpose of this infographic is to raise awareness about the prevalence of addiction and drug and alcohol use among foster children and young adults in the UK.

These young people have a significantly increased risk of substance use and mental disorder compared to their peers.

You can view the infographic below:

Risk of substance misuse amongst UK foster children infographic

We have re-printed some these facts in the text below

  • Foster children are four times more likely to misuse drugs or alcohol than their peers [2]
  • 34% of foster children have experienced drug and alcohol misuse in their birth families [2]
  • Almost seven in ten foster carers (69%) feel they have not received adequate training or support to deal with substance misuse issues in the children and young people they care for [3]
  • Researchers interviewed 68 dealers in four neighbourhoods in England and found that over half of them had lived in local authority care or secure accommodation [4]
  • 73% of care leavers had smoked cannabis compared to 31% of the general population [5]
  • 29% had taken ecstasy compared to 6% of the general population [5]
  • 26% had taken cocaine compared to 4% of the general population [5]
  • 21% had used solvents compared to 7% of the general population [5]
  • 14% had taken crack compared to 2% of the general population [5]
  • 9% had taken heroin compared to 0.6% of the general population [5]

Factors Contributing to Addiction and Drug and Alcohol Use in Foster Children and Young Adults

  • To rebel against the ‘authority’ that has taken them away from their parents [6]
  • Because they may have easy access to them
  • Because drugs help them to forget the difficulties that led to them being placed in public care (Trauma and abuse history) [7]
  • Because drugs can help them to relax, sleep, and normalise their feelings caused by the situation they are in (Mental health issues)
  • Because drugs can help relieve the stress associated with constantly moving and no sense of belonging – Multiple fostering or residential placements
  • Lack of stability and support
  • Peer pressure
  • Learning disability
  • Failure at School and disrupted education

Signs of Addiction and Drug and Alcohol Use in Foster Children and Young Adults

  • Bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils
  • Sudden changes in behaviour or mood
  • Poor hygiene and neglect of appearance
  • Unexplained injuries or bruises

Consequences of Addiction and Drug and Alcohol Use in Foster Children and Young Adults

  • Negative impact on mental health
  • Increased risk of criminal behaviour
  • Negative impact on education and future prospects

As well as substance misuse, many young people and that care leavers are disproportionately disadvantaged in other ways, including:

  • Experiencing homelessness
  • Poor education
  • Poor employment outcomes
  • Mental health problems
  • Early parenting
  • Contact with the criminal justice system [1]

How to Support a Foster Child You Suspect is Using Drugs or Alcohol

  • Listen
  • Answer questions
  • Provide a comfortable and ‘safe’ environment in which to talk
  • Help them to make informed decisions
  • Direct them to specialist advice or support if needed
  • Get peer support from other foster carers









Other Recent Articles

Subscribe to our newsletter