Today we launched a cross-party campaign in Parliament for support for children of alcoholics, as new FOI data from across England reveals that no local authority has a specific plan to help Britain’s 2.5 million innocent victims of alcohol.
Alcohol harm is Britain’s 3rd biggest public health risk after obesity and smoking – and alcohol harm costs Britain £21 billion. But one group is getting forgotten: the children of alcoholics and hazardous drinkers.
The problem of alcohol harm and its effects are only getting worse: More than 1 million hospital admissions a year costing the NHS £3.5bn; liver disease is the third most common cause of premature death in the UK – and the biggest risk factor for death in men under 60; liver disease mortality rates have increased 400% since 1970 and the UK has the worst health outcomes for liver disease in Western Europe.
Hard-drinking parents are causing damage to their children; Children of Alcoholics are 3 times more likely to consider suicide, 3 times more likely to become alcoholics and 5 times more likely to develop eating disorders. The risk we run is that today’s children of alcoholics become tomorrow’s alcoholics.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Children of Alcoholics has launched its campaign today with three campaign ‘asks’ for the Government:
1. Improved investment in helplines, like the National Association for Children of Alcoholics’ (NACOA), to support children of alcoholics and hazardous drinkers.
2. A big public information campaign warning heavy drinking parents of the damage they’re doing to their children - with advice on how to get help.
3. A plan for children of alcoholics to be put in place in every part of the country, with a proper national strategy, a minister in charge, and clear statistics to help us tell whether the right treatment budgets are in place.
Our call comes as the APPG publishes the results of its first England-wide FOI exercise, which reveals:
1. None of the 138 respondent local authorities have a specific strategy for support for children of alcoholics.
2. Almost no local authority is increasing its Drug and Substance abuse treatment budgets, despite the increases in alcohol related hospital admissions.
3. Referrals for alcohol treatment vary widely from 0.4% of a local authorities’ estimated number of hazardous drinkers, to 11%.
4. There’s huge variation in average Drug and Substance abuse treatment budgets for hazardous drinkers – from £6.61 a head on the Isle of Wight to £419.04 in Sefton.
5. There is very little uniformity in the data provided by different authorities. Although a number of national measurement systems for alcohol misuse are available these are not used by all local authorities.
This what I said earlier today:
"Millions of children of problem drinkers are suffering in silence and today this ground-breaking report reveals why.
"Not a single part of the country actually has a plan in place to help them. They are Britain's innocent victims of booze and they're being left to suffer alone. No wonder so many go on to become alcoholics themselves, develop eating disorders, depression - or even try to kill themselves.
"This is quite simply a national scandal and things have got to change. That's why today, MP's and peers from all parties are joining together to launch a new national campaign on behalf of Britain's 2.5 million children of alcoholics and problem drinkers. Its within our power to change things for the better - so let's get on with it.
"We're calling for some simple, big steps that would mean we connect every child of a problem drinker with the help that would make a difference. We want every part of Britain to have a plan in place and we want more investment in crucial helplines like the helpline run by the National Association of Children of Alcoholics - 0800 358 3456. Crucially, we're calling for a public information campaign aimed at parents so they know the damage they're doing their kids, and we want every council to publish details of their treatment budgets so we know everyone is spending what's needed."
You can read the full briefing on the FOI findings by clicking on the PDF below: