IT can be extremely lonely for a child to grow up in a household where a parent or carer is addicted to alcohol. We know the pandemic will have exacerbated the feeling of loneliness and isolation for some, as they spent more time at home, and others will have experienced it for the first time as their parents turned to alcohol to help them cope with the difficult circumstances. The NSPCC helpline saw a steep rise in contacts from people worried about parents misusing drink or drugs in the months following the start of the pandemic.
Parental addiction can be devastating for children. They lose their sense of safety and security. They are often so preoccupied with their parents substance misuse it can affect their school work and friendships and they often blame themselves.
One 16-year-old girl who contacted our Childline service told our counsellors: “I want my parents to break up. They are constantly arguing and they both have started drinking a lot more. They say some pretty horrible things to each other. It’s been like this for ages. Since the lockdown, my mum has been physically abusive and I’m really worried because they both have spent the night in jail before. My mum is not working and everything feels like it’s getting worse.”
From 13 – 19 February is Children of Alcoholics Week, organised by the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) – a charity which works tirelessly to give these children a voice.
It’s so important that all children living with parental addiction know there are people who will listen. Support can be found on the Childline website at childline.org.uk or by calling 0800 1111 and speaking to one of our volunteer counsellors free and in confidence. Help is also available from Nacoa at nacoa.org.uk or by calling their helpline on 0800 358 3456.
Childline Team Manager