Although a number of socioeconomic forces have converged across cultures to make fathering one of the more prominent social issues of the new millennium, the status of substance-abusing men as fathers is rarely acknowledged in the conceptualization of public policy, service delivery or research focusing on the adverse consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. In this commentary, the authors call for the substance abuse research community to expand understanding of fathering occurring across cultures in the context of chronic substance abuse. Building upon research being undertaken with other populations of fathers, the authors argue there is need to clarify (a) the number of substance-abusing fathers, (b) patterns of reproduction among substance-abusing men, (c) ways in which substance abuse contributes to compromise of fathering, (d) ways in which compromise of fathering contributes to psychological distress in substance-abusing men, (e) ways in which compromise of fathering affects developmental outcomes for children, and (f) ways in which clinical and preventive intervention might be used to minimize the harm associated with paternal substance abuse.
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