Resilient children of injection drug users

Daniel J. Pilowsky, Patricia A. Zybert, David Vlahov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine associations between resilience in children of injection drug users and children's coping strategies, parenting stress, and children's social support. Method: Injection drug - using parents (n = 91) and their children aged 6 to 11 (n = 117) were recruited in Baltimore (1997-1999). Resilience was defined as scoring in the lowest quartile of the Child Behavior Checklist total psychopathology score. Coping strategies used by resilient and nonresilient children, the extent and types of social support that they received, and the level of parenting stress reported by their parents were compared and contrasted. Results: Rates of depressive, anxiety, and disruptive behavior disorders were 15.4%, 22.2%, and 21.4%, respectively, for the entire sample. Compared with the nonresilient, resilient children were less likely to use two avoidance coping strategies (internalizing [p = .002] and externalizing [p = .017]). The level of actual support received by resilient and nonresilient children did not differ significantly (p = .202). Perceived support was greater among resilient children (as reported by their parents; p < .001), and their parents reported lower parenting stress (p = .042). Conclusions: A significant proportion of children of injection drug users are in need of clinical care. Interventions to help children of substance-abusing parents modify their coping style merit exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1372-1379
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Children of injection drug users
  • Children of substance abusing parents
  • Parenting
  • Social support
  • Stress coping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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