Others' perspectives

Your children

Alcohol and communication with your children
Help and information for children 

Alcohol and communication with your children

If a member of the family drinks too much it may affect everyone, including the children. Children often suffer in silence, yet their parent's alcohol use can have profound and at times, unseen, effects upon their lives. 

One difficulty may be that children of a drinking parent take on roles and responsibilities for which they are much too young e.g. housekeeping, preparing meals, looking after or `parenting` younger children. Others may exhibit problem behaviour (‘acting out’) to distract attention from the problems at home. 

Children have a number of needs and it is important for parents to consider how these needs can best be met in order to prevent problems at a later age. 

  • The basic needs of a child must be met. These include a proper diet, the opportunity to go to school, hygiene and safety (not being exposed to forms of violence, etc.).
  • Children need to be understood and be able to express their feelings about their problems with their parent(s).
  • Children must understand what addiction means and realise that it’s not their fault.
  • Children need to be able to express their feelings.
  • There must be enough people around to support the child (a social network).

As a parent, you can organise many of these things for your child, if necessary in consultation with professionals who can assist you.

At times, these professionals, may help you access the help of local childrens' services if there are unmet needs that you have identified.

If there’s a problem, discuss it with your child, at their level. Children often are very sensitive to signs that something is wrong; don’t make them worry too much by not talking about it. Tell them there is a problem, and that it’s the parent’s (or parents’) task to deal with it.


Help and information for children

Families and children seeking support and advice may find the following organisations useful. 

  • Adfam. Adfam is the leading national organisation in the UK working with and for families affected by drugs and alcohol. Adfam provide direct support to families through publications, training, and signposting to local support services. www.adfam.org.uk 
  • Adult Children of Alcoholics. ACA is a fellowship of men and women with the common bond of having been raised in an environment where alcoholism and addiction were present. www.adultchildrenofalcoholics.co.uk 
  • Al-Anon / Alateen. The Al-Anon family groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common probelms. Alateen is part of the Al-Anon fellowship and is for young people aged 12-17 who are affected by a problem drinker. www.al-anonuk.org.uk 
  • Children of Addicted Parents and People. COAP website offering periodic newsletters and a forum where those affected by someone else's addiction can meet, share experiences, and gain support. www.coap.co.uk    
  • National Association for Children of Alcoholics. NACOA was founded to provide information, advice, support for children of alcoholics and people concerned for their welfare. Free confidential helpline - 0800 358 3456. www.nacoa.org.uk
  • Young Minds. Young Minds is the national charity committed to improving the mental health of all children and young people. www.youngminds.org.uk