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Dealing with parents who are alcohol dependant

Published 14/12/2007

It’s a sad and frightening statistic: at any one time, up to 1.3 million children in the UK are affected by parental alcohol problems.

And the needs of children in that situation are being sorely neglected, according to a 2006 report by social care charity Turning Point. It found that “very few” professionals in adult services were confident about meeting the needs of both alcohol-misusing parents and their children.

It also found that many staff in children’s services lacked the knowledge and skills to address parent’s alcohol misuse problems even where they affected children, saying that direct services for parents and their children in this area had been “very slow” to develop and received “insufficient” attention.

What’s more frightening still is that this research only looks at families who are under the watch of local social services units. Millions more may be coping with similar situations that have been successfully ‘covered up’ – and may well go on to bear emotional, behavioural and mental scars as a result. Statistically, they have a higher chance of developing alcohol dependence themselves.

“The families of alcoholics are very often in as much need of help as the alcoholic themselves. The effects of alcohol abuse on spouses, partners and children can be devastating,” says Sue Allchurch, director of the Linwood Manor Group.

For that reason, Lynwode Manor offers a family programme to enable all members of a family to begin their own recovery. Comprising one-to-one and group sessions, along with educational lectures and workshops, the programme is designed to help the families of alcohol-dependent people to gain an understanding of the illness of alcoholism, and how to deal with the problems they’ve experienced as a result of their parent’s illness.

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