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2.5m children living with problem drinkers

Around 2.5 million children in England live with parents who have problems with alcohol, MPs have claimed.

A newly published report found that such children were “suffering in silence” because no councils in England offer specific help to those who have problem-drinking parents. In fact, a third of councils are cutting support for the drug and alcohol addiction programmes they do have. Only three local authorities are currently increasing the amount of money available for such services.

The report was published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Children of Alcoholics, which includes both MPs and peers from all political parties.

On top of the 2.5 million children whose parents were “hazardous drinkers”, the group also identified 705,000 children who lived with a “dependent drinker”. Alcohol-related disorders were responsible for around one million hospital admissions last year at an estimated cost to the NHS of £3.5 billion, according to the report.

This week, group chair Liam Byrne announced the Break The Silence to Break The Cycle campaign in order to combat these issues. He said that millions of children were “being left to suffer alone” because of a lack of help. This situation is “quite simply a national scandal and things have got to change”, he insisted.

The group called for the government to take “some simple, big steps” in order to make sure every child of a problem drinker can access appropriate help. Proposed steps included an increased investment in “crucial helplines” such as the one run by the National Association of Children of Alcoholics.

They also stressed the need for “a public information campaign aimed at parents so they know the damage they’re doing their kids”.

In 2014, the Children’s Commissioner for England said that not enough was being done to protect children affected by their parents’ drinking habits.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    Well let’s see what hazardous drinking is defined as – this is the definition from a study in 1999:-
    “Hazardous drinking is defined as a quantity or pattern of alcohol consumption that places individuals at risk for adverse health events9 and is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a distinct disorder. The quantity or pattern of alcohol consumption that constitutes hazardous drinking is also typically specified by setting threshold values for an individual’s average number of drinks consumed per week or per occasion. For example, in a recent study10 that examined the efficacy of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT),9 hazardous drinking was defined as an average consumption of 21 drinks or more per week for men (or ≥7 drinks per occasion at least 3 times a week), and 14 drinks or more per week for women (or ≥5 drinks per occasion at least 3 times a week).”
    Unless they are using a different definition of “hazardous” then that last sentence indicates to me that this is just hype – no doubt there is a problem but when they say “millions of children were ‘being left to suffer alone’ because of a lack of help” – I’m calling bullshit.

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