The first step is recognising alcohol dependency.
Having a parent who abuses alcohol can have serious long-term effects on a child and can harm them for life. A study from a parliamentary group stated that children of alcoholic are;
- Twice as likely to experience difficulties at school.
- Three times more likely to consider suicide.
- Five time more likely to develop eating disorders.
- Four time more likely to become alcoholics themselves.
With one in five children living with an alcoholic parent results in 2.5million children in the UK who are victims of drink. Therefore, it is important that they receive the vital support to break the cycle of alcoholism and offer them the facilities they require.
Alcoholic parents can completely change a child’s life and they can begin to relate memories and experiences to alcohol. Children will find it the norm for parents to not wake up in the morning or to be in a drunken state and unable to help them and their siblings get ready for school. Their birthdays are forgotten and Christmas is just an ordinary day as money for presents and decorations has been spent on alcohol.
The simplest of problems turn into mountains of anger and the only way of communication is through shouting and violence. Children become aware that hiding from their alcoholic parent is the only way to keep them safe while they continue to drink and hope they fall asleep. Children who experience this trauma at home can make the smallest of things bring back memories of violence or neglect from their parents. The colour yellow from the dress their mother wore when she had a drink and was abusive or the Christmas Day when Dad didn’t wake up and they spent the day alone in their bedroom.
As alcohol is available in most shops and most social venues across the UK, it means it is highly accessible to anyone over the age of 18. The number of off-licenses in Britain has increased by 25% since the 1980’s which is fuelling the cycle of alcoholism and helping alcoholics to continue to drink. As the price of alcohol goes down, the alcohol harm increases.
As there is a big stereotype of what an alcoholic looks and acts like, it may encourage children to hide their problems and not confront what they are dealing with at home. Feeling ashamed or embarrassed of what is happening to them can lead to secrecy and may prevent them to talking to someone. It is therefore key for children to be able to talk freely about how they feel and their troubles but also for parents to be able to understand what they are leaving behind if they continue drinking. By educating children on the effects of alcoholism and to understand when a situation is dangerous or wrong can open up a whole world of support and help that is vital for them. If alcoholism is really something that needs targeted, then the government need to reduce the accessibility and modernise the licensing laws.
If you are interested in fostering and helping to keep children safe, please speak with one of our recruitment officers on 0208 7990930.