Alcoholic parents becoming a growing problem even among adults, finds report

Over the last five years there has been a three-fold increase in the number of adults seeking help and support to deal with alcoholism in a parent says a report.

Image Credit: Axel Bueckert / Shutterstock
Image Credit: Axel Bueckert / Shutterstock

The latest figures come from the charity National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA) which says that in the last year it has received over 23,000 calls or messages from adults seeking support and assistance. This number was 6,400 in 2013 says the NACOA. The charity explains that one in five children living in the United Kingdom faces trouble with one or both parents’ drinking problem. This new report reveals that adults are also similarly affected.

According to Stephanie Page, a helpline supervisor at the NACOA, the challenges faced by older children and adults whose parents started drinking excessively later in life are different. She said in a statement, “The parent may have retired and is lonely; they may have had issues adjusting to retirement. The adult child of the alcoholic often finds that really difficult because they haven’t seen this side of them before and they may not know what to do.” “It can be really surreal seeing this side to your parent,” she added.

There have been studies in the past analyzing the effects of parental drinking on children and adolescents. A recent study by the Children’s Society for example found that alcohol addiction and abuse among parents affected the lives of around 700,000 teenagers across the UK. Each day around a 100 teenagers are rendered homeless because of alcohol abuse by their parents, the Society’s report had found. With such rise in abuse of alcohol among parents there is a rise in demands for child services and also a huge number of mentally and emotionally scarred children growing up in homes where their caregivers are abusing alcohol and other recreational drugs.

Alcohol kills a large number of people in the UK with a hospital admission every 30 seconds associated directly or indirectly with alcohol says the NHS. In 2017 there have been 5,843 deaths due to alcohol abuse says the NHS. The rise is by 16 percent over the past ten years says the NHS.

According to a statement from a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson, alcoholism in a parent or caregiver can be “incredibly damaging for a young person to grow up with an alcoholic parent and can lead to lifelong harm”. The experts have said that children of parents who abuse alcohol are four times more likely to become dependent drinkers themselves as they grew up. “We are investing £6m to support children of dependent parents, and services including alcohol treatment and mental health services are available for people who are suffering the impact of parental drinking as adults,” the spokesperson added.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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