18/05/2006

Government action urged on alcoholic parents

An estimated one in eleven children in the UK are living with parents who misuse alcohol, according to a report.

Social care charity Turning Point said that children whose parents had alcohol problems often suffered behavioural, emotional and school-related problems. They worried about the harm to their parent's health, found it difficult to make friends and often had to look after siblings, parents and the home.

The charity also said that these children were more likely to express their anger through anti-social behaviour, as well as develop alcohol problems themselves.

The report also said that parents with alcohol problems could be "emotionally distant" from their children and could leave caring responsibilities unattended.

Overall, the report said, family life could be "disrupted and chaotic", with conflict and violence being more common and the risk of divorce or separation being doubled.

Turning Point said that there was a "severe lack of joined up help and support" available to both the children of parents with alcohol problems and the parents themselves.

The charity said that there were only 59 projects in the UK which were dedicated to supporting families affected by alcohol misuse.

The report also suggested that families may be reluctant to seek help due to the stigma attached to alcohol misuse, combined with a general lack of information and guidance.

Turning Point Chief Executive Lord Victor Adebowale said: "It's inconceivable that the lives of so many children and families are being damaged by alcohol and this has, until today, been a hidden problem.

"The government has started helping children affected by their parents' drug misuse, but we estimated there are 5 times as many children affected by parental alcohol misuse."

Turning Point has called on the government to launch a national inquiry to examine the impact of parental alcohol abuse and develop new services for children and parents.

The charity has also launched a campaign, Bottling It Up, to highlight the problem.

The charity has called for new dedicated services to be introduced to help families affected by alcohol misuse. These include: individual and group counselling for parents with alcohol problems; separate services for children, including counselling; and family therapy.

(KMcA/GB)

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