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Home > Bottling it up: the effects of alcohol misuse on children, parents and families.

Turning Point. (2006) Bottling it up: the effects of alcohol misuse on children, parents and families. London: Turning Point.

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There are up to 1.3 million (one in eleven) children in the UK living with parents who misuse alcohol (Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England, 2004). The problems are widespread and well documented, yet children and parents are still neglected by services. Parental alcohol misuse damages and disrupts the lives of children and families in all areas of society, spanning all social classes. It blights the lives of whole families and harms the development of children trapped by the effects of their parents’ problematic drinking. This issue challenges a number of Government agendas. Yet despite the damage that it causes to individuals and society, it is an area that remains hidden. The effect of alcohol misuse within families has been relatively overlooked and under-recognised by Government and severely neglected in terms of specific service development for children and families affected.

A particular characteristic of the issue is denial – the alcohol misuse is a family secret and children’s voices, too often, go unheard. As a leading provider of services for children and parents facing the issue of problematic drinking, Turning Point has researched the reality of alcohol misuse within the family in order to help drive the development of better services. This report, based on interviews with children and parents, highlights the far-reaching consequences of parental alcohol problems on everyone in the family. The impact on children can begin pre-birth and lead to a sustained, damaging legacy into adulthood. As they grow up, children have to cope with a multitude of behavioural, emotional and social problems.

Families generally receive little support to help address the practical and emotional issues that arise, yet children and parents are clear about the positive impact that the right services could have on helping them to manage or overcome their situation.

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