CHILDLINE ADVICE: Alcohol can have an incredibly damaging effect on the entire family
This week is Children of Alcoholics Week, a national campaign to highlight the support needed by children whose parents misuse alcohol.
According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA, which organises the campaign), parental alcohol misuse affects one in five children in the UK.
Last year, the NSPCC’s Childline service delivered an average of almost two counselling sessions per day to children across the country who were concerned about a parent’s use of drugs or alcohol.
When someone's drinking becomes harmful or they become dependent on drink, it can have an incredibly damaging effect on the entire family.
Younger children can lose their sense of safety and security.
Their schoolwork and friendships can suffer because they often blame themselves for what’s happening at home.
As children get older, children can also be at risk of behavioural or emotional problems, poor attendance at school or low grades, poverty, exposure to criminal activity and separation from their parents.
That is why it’s so important that children living with an alcohol dependent parent find the courage to speak up so they can get the help. Talking to someone can help them feel less alone and help them get the right support.
Living with a parent with a drinking problem can leave children feeling scared, lonely, confused, forgotten, embarrassed or ashamed.
Children may become withdrawn or develop behavioural, emotional or mental health problems, or may take on the responsibility of caring for their parents or siblings.
Our counsellors are here to remind children that none of their parents’ actions are the child’s fault.
More importantly, we want to remind young people that there is no shame in asking for help – children have the right to a safe and loving home, and they never have to cope alone.
By talking about Children of Alcoholics Week, we hope to help break the cycle of secrecy and give young people the confidence to speak up.
By removing the stigma and the shame they needlessly feel, we can help them get the support they need sooner and improve the lives of everyone affected by substance misuse.