Swanswell highlights parental drinking affect on children for international campaign

12 February 2013

Swanswell believes clear information and advice is key to helping parents understand the effect their drinking is having on themselves and their children.  

It’s Children of Alcoholics (COA) Week - an international campaign, led by the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, which aims to raise awareness of the hidden harms of alcohol misuse and to highlight the support available to children directly affected by their parent’s drinking.

Swanswell, a national recovery charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is using COA Week to encourage parents to think about how their alcohol use is perceived by younger members of the family, and to get help.

Recent statistics show around 2.6 million children in the UK are living with parents who are hazardous drinkers and 705,000 are living with parents who are alcohol dependent (Alcohol Concern, 2010).

More than 100 children, including those as young as five, contact ChildLine every week with worries about their parents’ alcohol or drug use (NSPCC, 2010).

Swanswell knows from experience that alcohol misuse is a concern for many parents. Four years ago, the national charity was approached by online parenting website Netmums to provide appropriate support to users who had posted questions in their ‘Coffee House Forum’ about alcohol and drug use.

Since then, members have been regularly turning to the Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction Support section for advice, posting general questions that help everyone or asking for more confidential advice through private messaging.

Chris Robinson, Swanswell’s Director of Services, said: ‘Regularly drinking alcohol to excess is not only harmful to health, it can affect other areas of your life such as the ability to be an effective parent.

‘Alcohol affects judgement, so if you do have children it’s likely that any decision you make while under the influence will also affect them.

‘If parents are regularly drinking at harmful levels, it could put children at risk of abuse, behavioural problems, low educational attainment or regular illness and can give them the idea that excessive alcohol use is the norm, causing problems later. 

Statistics also suggest that children of parents affected by alcohol misuse are twice as likely to be in trouble with the police, twice as likely to develop alcohol problems themselves and three times as likely to have an addiction to drugs (Independent, 2012).

We know there can be many complex reasons behind someone’s drinking – as a coping mechanism for stress, grief or domestic abuse for example – and many people feel too embarrassed or ashamed to come forward for help.

So it’s vital that parents have easy access to clear information and appropriate support – such as that offered by Swanswell through Netmums - to help them make informed decisions about their drinking and set a good example to their children.’

Worried about your drinking? Take the Fast Alcohol Screening Test (FAST) to find out the level you are drinking at. 

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