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Children of Alcoholics Week 2017

16 Feb 2017

This week (12th-18th February) is Children of Alcoholics Week. Many people have been bravely sharing their experiences of growing up with a parent with an alcohol problem. Speaking out is important, helping to break the stigma and shame which all too often surrounds the issue of parental substance use. Until we know what the problem is, we are not going to be able to solve it, and society’s attitudes will not change

With over thirty years of experience working with families affected by drugs and alcohol, we know that this is a complex and painful issue, but that there is also hope and support available. Through our work, we empower family members and carers, support frontline workers and influence decision-makers to make sure that every family affected by substance use has access to the support they need. We consult family members and young people so that we can hear their voices and amplify their needs to those who make decisions at a local and central government level, raising awareness and destigmatising their experiences.

Manifesto for Children of Alcoholics

We have contributed to Liam Byrne MP’s Manifesto for Children of Alcoholics (PDF) and welcome all the work that he and others are doing to raise the profile of children affected by parental substance use and campaign for change.

Hidden Harm project in the London Borough of Newham

We are really excited to be developing new youth support services in Newham for young people directly affected by this issue. Following local consultation, our services will support family recovery by focusing on improving communication in the family. Working directly with young people affected by parental substance misuse (alcohol or drugs), we will be setting up a regular youth support club offering a range of fun activities, trips and workshops. Young people have already expressed interest in a regular youth club combined with challenging outdoor team activities to build confidence.

One of the aims of the project is to support young people to reconnect with their adolescence, ensure they have friendships, are able to attend provision and to break down the sense of isolation. Over time we will support the young people to develop a strong voice so they can talk directly to decision and policy makers. Young people will coproduce the programme and will be involved in developing peer support and an online resource. Our Newham project will also involve work directly with the parent(s) addressing the impact of substance misuse on the family. We will also be organising family activities focusing on positive family time.

Alcohol and Families Alliance

As part of the Alcohol and Families Alliance, we have been involved in an inquiry into the impact of parental drinking on children funded by the Institute of Alcohol Studies. While there is a significant amount of research on the impact of problematic drinking on families and children, far less is known about the impact of ‘moderate’ or ‘lower risk’ drinking. This research aims to rectify this, as we believe that the damaging effects of alcohol on children and families may not be confined to those incurred by drinkers who have been diagnosed as hazardous or dependent, and that more can be done in terms of early identification and prevention. We are looking forward to launching the findings in the Spring.

Further support

Children affected by parental substance use often feel isolated and do not know where to turn for help; we hope that through our work they will be able to find the support they need. If you would like support for either yourself or someone you know, look on our list of useful organisations or search our map of local support groups.