We all know the difficulties faced by someone with an alcohol addiction, and are aware of support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, but what about the children of alcoholics? How are they affected? What support is available for them? This week is Children of Alcoholics Week and so I want to do my bit for raising awareness about the difficulties faced by those who are raised as a child of an alcoholic.
Children of alcoholics are affected from a very young age, right through adulthood. A child of an alcoholic will often believe it is their responsibility to try and get their parent better. They will often have experienced the alcohol being a bigger priority than them and are likely to have witnessed things no healthy parent would want their children to see. However, that is the point, this is not healthy parents we are talking about; an alcoholic parent may be doing their best to juggle both alcohol and their children, but the drink will always win whilst the addiction is in control.
There is a charity that is designed specifically to help children of alcoholics; The National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and they received more than 4,500 calls from children under 18 a year. This figure provides an insight into the number of children affected, and that only reflects those who were able to make the call; the true figure of those affected is likely to be far higher. However, this is one of the issues faced by children of alcoholics – they are likely to be scared to ask for help in case it results in them being removed from the home. Therefore, they continue to struggle on alone and consequently suffer terribly. Research has shown that children of alcoholic parents are significantly more likely to develop mental health problems and eating disorders, to get in trouble with the police or to become an alcoholic themselves.
The risk of a child of an alcoholic developing their own problem with alcohol is significant. Whilst many children will be determined not to be like their parent, it may be the only coping strategy they have ever witnessed and so may be one that they turn to in order to numb the pain of what their parent is going through or putting them through. Therefore, our aim is to provide as much information as possible about support for children of alcoholics to try and avoid the addiction bleeding into each subsequent generation.
If you are the child of an alcoholic (no matter what age), give us a call. We are here to help and will support you through this difficult time.