The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) each conduct research on a variety of substance abuse topics, including basic research and studies of epidemiological, clinical, prevention, and services aspects of alcohol and illicit drug abuse and addiction.
Among NIDA's activities is a program of research on the health and development of children whose parents abuse illicit drugs. This effort is based on the following principles. Parental substance abuse had the potential to influence the development and the health of infants and children in many ways, via direct effects (e.g., prenatal drug exposure, postnatal passive drug exposure) and via indirect effects associated with drug abuse. Some of these indirect effect may be very specific (e.g., transmission of HIV from mother to infant) and some may be complexly interwoven (e.g., violence in the home and community and dysfunctional parenting associated with substance abuse). Outcomes of interest range from fetal development to infant and child developmental functioning, to vulnerability to drug abuse among these children and adolescents.
NIAAA supports a range of research on the etiology, prevention and treatment of alcohol-related family problems through two programs: one addressing alcohol-related violence, the other focusing on child development and family dynamics in alcohol-abusing families. Studies address both the direct and indirect effects of alcohol on developmental processes and on outcomes ranging from fetal alcohol syndrome to heightened vulnerability to alcohol-related problems over the life course.