There has been much in the news recently about how 2.5 million children are living with alcoholic parents and how there is very little in the way of support for them. One person who knows all too well the effects that an alcohol addiction can have on children in Don Valley MP Caroline Flint, whose own mother was affected by the illness.
Ms Flint spoke on the BBC 1 Andrew Marr show about the heartbreak of watching her mother succumb to her alcohol addiction. She is now calling on the Government to do more to help the children who are struggling because of their parents’ addictions.
Shame and Secrecy
Ms Flint said that young people’s needs are not being met and, in many cases, strategies designed to tackle the subject of alcohol addiction are overlooking children. She said that the Government needs to help these children avoid the ‘shame and secrecy’ that she and many others have experienced.
A cross-party manifesto has been released in which it is revealed that there is a ‘shocking’ lack of support for the children of those with an alcohol addiction. In many areas across the UK, there is a lack of strategies in place while in other areas there is simply a lack of funding altogether.
The manifesto document calls on the Government to protect the UK’s ‘innocent victims of drink’. Titled Children of Alcoholics: Manifesto for Change, the document claims that around twenty per cent of UK children are living with a parent who drinks heavily. It also claims that these children are more likely to suffer from difficulties in school, consider suicide, or develop an alcohol addiction themselves.
The manifesto document has set out a number of recommendations for the Government in order to tackle the issue. It is hoped that these recommendations will help the children of alcoholics to avoid the stigma attached to the illness going forward.
Giving Children a Voice
Ms Flint, who also appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, said she wanted the manifesto document to ‘give children a voice’, adding, “I and others who are part of the manifesto want to try and allow our experience to give some voice to those children who are out there today. I found it very difficult to talk about this publicly until I was in my 40s it was about that secrecy and not wanting to tell anyone. I think as I’ve grown older and found it easier in some ways to talk about this and to talk to others who have been through the same experience.”
She had previously spoken about her mother Wendy’s alcohol addiction in 2015, where she revealed the illness had caused ‘chaos’ in their household. Ms Flint said her mother would often drink whatever alcohol she could afford as a comfort. As a teenager, this was difficult for Ms Flint, who said, “You go to school and you try to get on with things, but you’re never quite sure what you’re going to come home to. There’s a lot you do as a child to keep things private.”
She also spoke about her fear of friends finding out about her mother’s addiction. She said, “You’re ashamed about it; you’re worried about people finding out; you’re worried what people will think of your mum; you’re worried what people will think of you; you’re worried about what’s happening to your brother and sister – and obviously, you’re worried about your mum and what she might do when the drink takes hold. For any children going through this, it’s a mixed emotion because you can go through love and hate in 24 hours, and you just don’t know from one day to the next what emotions you’re going to be feeling.”
Attitude to Alcohol
Sadly, Wendy died because of her alcohol addiction, and twenty-five years later, Ms Flint’s attitude to alcohol is still affected by her experiences. She said, “I never drink alone. If I drink alcohol, I drink with my friends and husband socially – not that I think I’m going to go off the rails or anything, but I don’t want to be that person who takes refuge in alcohol on your own because that’s when it does take a grip. For me, that is my line. That, for me, is just a no-no.”
Beating an Alcohol Addiction
While Ms Flint’s mother was unable to overcome her alcohol addiction, the reality is that there are some fantastic programmes available for those who find themselves in a similar position. Here at Liberty House, we are helping many people to beat their addictions to both alcohol and drugs.
We have an excellent success rate with our treatments and programmes that are designed around the needs of the individual. For more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.
Source: Doncaster MP who lost mum to alcoholism calls for more help for children of chronic drinkers (South Yorkshire Times)