National & International

Children ‘hurt by parents’ drinking’

A study has revealed that parent’s consumption of alcohol has adverse effect on over a third of UK children, according to the Guardian.

The study, which examined the effects of non-dependent drinking, found a significant link between the amount of alcohol consumed by parents and increased negative experiences among children who witness them in a drunk or tipsy state.

It also confirmed previous findings that children were more than twice as likely to report a negative outcome if their parents had negative motives for drinking – regardless of how much alcohol they consumed.

The study, published on Tuesday in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, reports that three-fifths of the 997 parents surveyed said they had consumed alcohol to help them cope with feelings of depression and to escape problems, while 95% spoke of instances where they drank alcohol to relax or feel happier.

The children surveyed – who were aged between 10 and 17 – reported negative experiences that included being given less attention than usual, being put to bed earlier or later than their usual time, having arguments with parents more than normal, and being at the receiving end of increased unpredictability.

Ian Hamilton, an expert in addiction and mental health from the University of York, said being sent to bed early may seem trivial, along with the other effects listed, but if regularly experienced could have a lasting detrimental impact.

“Likewise, I suspect many parents will be unaware of how a drug like alcohol can affect interactions with their children, or even be aware that alcohol has any impact,” he said.

“It is not surprising that alcohol is used by parents who are struggling with their mental health and feelings; alcohol is easier to access than professional support and always available.”

He added: “With cutbacks to mental health services alcohol may be the only way that some people feel they can cope with their feelings and they may be oblivious to the impact it has on those around them.”

Eric Appleby, the chair of the Alcohol and Families Alliance, which brings together groups from across the voluntary and statutory sectors, said the finding that a third of children have had a negative experience from their parents’ drinking should trouble the government.

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