The effects alcohol abuse can have go far beyond just having a drink. It can affect the people around you including close family and friends. Most importantly it can affect children. Today in the United Kingdom it is estimated that one in five children live with an alcoholic parent (www.coaweek.org).
Having grown up with an alcoholic father for part of my life, this is an issue that is close to me, and one that I can completely understand. It’s the embarrassment of friends coming over and your father shouting because he’s drunk, it’s the anger, resentment and confusion. Emotionally, it’s the experience of having to grow up faster than you should and having to take on bigger responsibilities.
This week, 11th – 16th February, marks ‘Children of Alcoholics Week’, which aims to raise awareness of children affected by parental alcohol problems, while also reminding all children living with an alcoholic parent that they are not alone. Children of Alcoholics Week (COA) is held internationally every year and is led by a campaign founded by the The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA).
COA Week supporter and Nacoa Patron, Elle McPherson, has said: “Without help these children become lost in the system; they grow up feeling un-noticed at best and abused at worst. Nacoa’s work is all about planning for a positive future – helping them to transform their negative beliefs about themselves into an ‘I can do’ attitude.”
NACOA run a phone and online service providing young people with information and a forum to speak to someone. They also provide one to one support, and deliver outreach programmes to schools in order to discuss this hidden issue and create more awareness for teachers and pupils.
As someone who has experienced life with an alcoholic parent, there is always the uncertainty of never knowing what you are going home to. It’s the not being listening to and never being heard. The children that are being supported by organisations such as NACOA are being listened to, and it’s important we don’t forget them.
Thanks for reading x
For any children or young people who may be affected by this issue, please remember the Six “C”s:
I didn’t cause it
I can’t control it
I can’t cure it
I can take care of myself
I can communicate my feelings
I can make healthy choices