19 Oct 2016

How drugs can affect parenting instincts

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:16 pm on 19 October 2016
Photos taken by Ohio police of drug addicted parents.

Photos taken by Ohio police of drug addicted parents. Photo: City of East Liverpool, Ohio/ Facebook

The Ohio Police released the pictures above to raise awareness of the impact of drug addiction. It shows two drug addicted parents slumped unconscious in their car, with their frightened looking four year old son in the back.

Both parents were charged with a number of offences including endangering children.

So what is it about drugs that cause can parents to put their children's lives at risk like this?  A new study may shed some light on just what happens in the brains of drug addicts, and how this impacts on their parenting instincts.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania scanned the brains of 47 people before and after they underwent treatment for opioid dependence, showing them images of cute babies designed to provoke an instinctual response.

And they found that the brains of people addicted to opioids didn't produce strong responses to the cute baby pictures compared with non addicts.

One of the researchers, Dr Daniel Langleben, conducted the study.