Campaigners raise the plight of young people dealing with alcohol misuse in the home as part of Children of Alcoholics Week
THERE ARE CALLS for urgent action to help youngsters who have a parent with an alcohol addiction.
At the start of Children of Alcoholics Week (11-17 February), experts have warned that more support is needed for children who have been affected by alcohol harm in the home.
New data from NHS Health Scotland has revealed that alcohol was related to 3,700 deaths and over 40,000 hospital admissions last year.
Also, the latest Scottish Health Survey found that 51,000 children have been raised by parents who have problems with alcohol.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “While every family is different, children and young people who live with someone who drinks too much often say they feel scared, confused, stressed and angry when their parents are drinking.
“They are also at higher risk of experiencing neglect and domestic violence and often suffer in silence as they do not know where to get help or are too scared to speak to someone.
“Those affected by harmful drinking deserve to have someone championing their rights and experiences, and I hope that we can make full use of the upcoming opportunities around the refresh of the alcohol strategy to ensure that their voices are heard.” Monica Lennon
“A range of child, young person and family focussed support and information is therefore vital to protect those who are being negatively affected by someone’s drinking.
“However, it is also critical that more is done to start to reduce the number of children and young people being affected in this way. We know that increasing price, reducing availability and restricting marketing are the most effective ways to reduce alcohol-related harm not only for the drinker, but also for their children.”
Labour MSP Monica Lennon has written to the childcare and early years minister, Maree Todd, urging the Scottish Government to act to help young people who have been affected by either or both parents who have a problem with alcohol.
She has also called on the Scottish Government to set up a national information campaign to raise awareness of problem surrounding alcohol abuse, and Lennon has been invited to speak to the public health minister, Aileen Campbell, to discuss the issue.
The Central Scotland MSP said: “Those affected by harmful drinking deserve to have someone championing their rights and experiences, and I hope that we can make full use of the upcoming opportunities around the refresh of the alcohol strategy to ensure that their voices are heard.”
“A range of child, young person and family focussed support and information is therefore vital to protect those who are being negatively affected by someone’s drinking.” Alison Douglas
Last year, Lennon drew on her personal experience – her father died due to an alcohol-related illness in 2015 – at First Ministers Question to help draw attention to the increase of death rates related to alcohol and drugs. As part of her question, she highlighted the difficulties that families faced as a result of those deaths.
Justina Murray, CEO, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, said: “Even where need has been identified, our experience is that support services often focus on younger children (pre-school or primary age) or adults.
“There is a real gap in support for young people (age 12 years and over) affected by alcohol in the home – which may include those with siblings, parents or other family members who are problem drinkers. We are marking the Year of Young People 2018 by engaging with young people aged 12-25 years around their experiences of alcohol in the family and working with them to develop and test out support models which meet their own needs and preferences.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Every young person should have an equal opportunity to succeed in life no matter their circumstances and through the Child Protection Improvement Programme we are identifying where the system can be strengthened to ensure that vulnerable children receive the right help at the right time.
“We are marking the Year of Young People 2018 by engaging with young people aged 12-25 years around their experiences of alcohol in the family and working with them to develop and test out support models which meet their own needs and preferences. ” Justina Murray
“This work runs in tandem with assistance given to families and individuals through Scottish Government funding for Alcohol and Drug partnership. This government is committed to making sure that child protection services and wider public health services work closely together to make sure families have the support they need.
“Recognising the role that deprivation, poverty, trauma and adverse childhood experiences can have, this government has made significant progress in tackling alcohol misuse, with minimum unit pricing to be implemented from May 2018.”
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