Substance-abusing mothers and disruptions in child custody: An attachment perspective

Nancy E. Suchman, Thomas J. McMahon, Heping Zhang, Linda C. Mayes, Suniya Luthar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Using an attachment framework, we examined (1) whether substance-abusing mothers' perceptions of how they were parented were related to the severity of their substance abuse and psychological maladjustment and (2) whether these two factors mediated the association between mothers' perceptions of how they were parented and their children's placement out of home. There were 108 mothers of 248 children who completed interviews upon admission to a methadone maintenance program for women. Measures included lifetime risk composite scores derived from the Addiction Severity Index, the Parental Bonding Instrument, and a demographics questionnaire. A multilevel modeling approach was used to model effects of the hierarchically organized data (e.g., children nested within families). Findings are consistent with an attachment perspective on parenting suggesting that the internal psychological processes of a parent play a critical role in the continuity of parenting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Attachment
  • Child abuse
  • Comorbid psychopathology
  • Maternal drug abuse
  • Parent-child relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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