The lifestyle associated with opiate dependence, including drug taking, the buying and selling of drugs, and contact with other drug users, carries potential risks for the safety and well-being of children of drug-using parents. Based on a qualitative interview study conducted with 50 opiate-dependent parents in Dublin, Ireland, the parenting beliefs and practices in relation to children’s exposure to drugs and the associated lifestyle are described. Parents saw their lifestyle as potentially risky for their children and their families. The most common strategy adopted by parents was to conceal their drug-related activities and maintain a strict family taboo about these activities. Intervention programmes should be offered to support effective family communication about parental drug dependence.

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