Fatherhood, Substance Use, and Early Child Development

Journal Name
Handbook of Fathers and Child
Year Published
Author (Individual)
McMahon, T.
Resource Type
Journal Article
Resource Format
Resource Language

Although the gender gap may be slowly closing across generations, men are generally much more likely than women to develop a substance use disorder as they move through adolescence into early to middle adulthood when most men first become a father. Research done from several different perspectives suggests that substance use by men affects family relations and family relations affect substance use by men, undoubtedly in a reciprocal manner as men move through the life cycle of the family. Moreover, substance use by men represents a substantial threat to the development of infants, toddlers, and preschool children. When men begin a family while misusing substances, early temperamental difficulty exacerbated by compromise of early family environments seems to put children on developmental pathways to externalizing difficulty, internalizing difficulty, and substance use during the transition from adolescence to early adulthood that represents risk for transmission of social, family, and psychological problems across generations. As the literature on substance use and fathering during family formation continues to expand, policymakers, researchers, and providers need to use this research to inform the development of creative preventive and clinical interventions designed to minimize the harm associated with paternal addiction for fathers, mothers, and children.

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