Outside Looking In: What Do Teachers of Young Children Need to Know about Substance Use Disorder and the Stigma Attached To It?

Henry and Sam at the gate

What do we know about early childhood educators’ understanding of substance use disorder? As we’ve discussed previously in this blog, there are not a lot of resources out there for teachers working with children affected by familial substance use disorder (see Resources for a few suggestions about where to go for more information). But does this mean that teachers don’t understand it? And if they don’t, what kind of information will be most useful as they work with young children living with SUD?

My project over the next few months is to learn more about how living with substance use disorder affects the social, emotional and cognitive development of children under the age of six. I am especially interested in studying the family dynamics that have been identified in families where one or more caregiver has this disease, and how characteristic communication patterns may impact identity development and the child’s ability to succeed socially and academically in the childcare or school environment.

Since there seems to be limited information about this challenge targeted to early educators, I am interested in focusing on literature outside of the education field, specifically, in the fields of addictions and social work. I will be reporting on my findings in this blog.

I’ve also blogged about the stigma attached to substance use disorder and how it impacts parents (read about this here). Is there additional research that would help teachers to uncover their biases and so work more effectively with families and children affected by this disease? I’m interested in that, as well, and will be sharing whatever information I glean right here!

It’s time that we, as a society, got real about this public health crisis and how it is impacting our children. For all of us, in one way or another, are outside, looking in…and so are the children we care so much about.