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In a new report released today, 'Over the Limit: The Truth about Families and Alcohol', national charity 4Children warns of a silent epidemic of alcohol misuse by British families. The report warns that too many parents remain oblivious to the negative effects that alcohol can have on their parenting. An alarming 19% believe alcohol has a positive effect on their parenting ability and 62% of parents say that their drinking behaviour has no impact on their family at all. Over the Limit says it does.
Over the Limit: The Truth about Families and Alcohol highlights the stark impact of drinking in family crisis and demands better support and information for families to turn around their dependency and prevent chronic problems from taking root.
Over the Limit highlights that:
The report warns of the stark reality of life for families where drinking has reached hazardous levels and is calling for a series of wide ranging reforms including a commitment from the alcohol industry to recognise their responsibility to the wellbeing of consumers by diverting 1% of revenue to fund a new alcohol awareness campaign aimed at families.
Shocking research from the report reveals that:
Anne Longfield OBE, 4Children Chief Executive said:
This report demands that we think again about our relationship with alcohol for our families’ sake. The statistics speak for themselves with consumption of alcohol known to be a major factor in family crisis – from domestic abuse and family conflict to a breakdown in family relationships and the ability to parent.
It is no use waiting for alcohol and drugs to take their grip on families and only intervene when a child protection case is called. We need to see a greater focus on families within wider strategies around addiction.
Addiction and the subsequent breakdown in many families is the end of a story that often starts with so called ‘normal’ use. With proper warnings to parents and better awareness of the impact that alcohol can have, we can avoid the crises that addiction can cause.”
Sally Russell, Netmums founder said:
While it’s always the priority that children are kept safe, it’s also vital that parents feel supported in order to begin to change behaviour, rather than feeling preached at. No parent wants to be an addict harming their own children, so services must work together to provide the best environment for change.
Families blighted by drug and alcohol abuse need to know there are family-focused services that will help them tackle their problems and become better parents – and professionals working with these families on a day to day basis must have the confidence and skills to broach the issue and ensure troubled parents can access this help.
Getting this right would make an enormous difference to the lives of children in the families affected, and make substantial inroads into the ending the devastating emotional and economic effects of substance abuse."
Simon Antrobus, Addaction Chief Executive said:
At Addaction, we are aware of the devastating impact that alcohol use can have on family life. In a recent report Addaction highlighted the dangers of parental substance misuse on children and how family-based interventions need to be used to tackle the intergenerational cycle of addiction.
We strongly welcome the recommendations in the 4Children report; in particular those of increased alcohol awareness and a ‘whole family’ approach. To help these vulnerable families we need to ensure that a combined commitment is made to provide accurate, timely and accessible alcohol education, advice and information, alongside long-term investment in high quality early intervention and support services with families and communities.”
4Children is calling for a major public information campaign, funded by the alcohol industry, to provide better information and more help to families via health visitors and midwives via schools and children’s centres. It demands the protection of existing funding for alcohol and drugs services that may be a casualty of the transition from PCTs to Clinical Commissioning Groups. The charity is also calling on the UK alcohol industry, estimated to be worth £6 billion annually, to invest 1% of its value into help for families to prevent alcohol dependency and family crises.
Anne Longfield added:
Families need help to make the right decisions around drinking and substance use. In some cases, a warning label may provide the nudge that’s needed. For many, a more far reaching intervention will be in order.
We need to remain focused on maintaining and extending services to encompass prevention strategies and that should include better labelling and a concerted effort to reach parents to be and very new parents so that they are aware of the dangers of alcohol. The alcohol industry is in a position to be able to take on some of the stewardship and should be encouraged to do so as part of its corporate social responsibility strategies.”
Click here to download Over the Limit: The Truth about Families and Alcohol
Notes to the Editor
Recommendations within Over the Limit include:
4Children is the national charity all about children and families. We have spearheaded a joined-up, integrated approach to children’s services and work with a wide range of partners around the country to ensure children and families have access to the services and support they need in their communities. We run Sure Start Children’s Centres as well as family and youth services across Britain.
We develop, influence and shape national policy on all aspects of the lives of children, young people and families. As the Government’s strategic partner for early years and childcare we have a crucial role in co-producing policy with the Department of Education and representing the sector’s views and experiences. Our national campaigns, like Give Me Strength, change policy and practice and put the needs of children and families on the political and policy agenda.
For more information please visit www.4children.org.uk
Or visit our Give Me Strength website via www.givemestrength.org.uk
ComRes interviewed 575 parents with children aged 16 and under online from 24th to 27th August.. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at ComRes.co.uk.
Netmums: Netmums also undertook a survey on behalf of 4Children via its website. 176 parents responded to the survey on a self selecting basis.
Freedom of Information requests were sent to every Primary Care Trust, Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Group in England to pull together a map of services that are available on a nationwide basis, and highlight any gaps in provision. An independent researcher undertook interviews with professionals and academics in the field of family based alcohol and substance misuse treatment and a number of service users. A detailed literature review around family substance misuse and family related services was undertaken covering academic literature, research evidence, child protection cases, clinical guidelines and government policy.
For more information or to request a case study please contact Sheetal Morzaria on 020 7522 6986 / 0755 704 1018 or firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Manning, V., Best, D. W., Faulker, N., & Titherington, E., 2009. New estimates of the number of children living with substance misusing parents: results from UK national household surveys [pdf] BMC Public Health. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2762991/pdf/1471-2458-9-377.pdf [Accessed 12 July 2012]
3. Forrester & Harwin, 2006. Referenced in: Silent Voices: Supporting Children and Young People affected by Parental Alcohol Misuse. Available at http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications/content_619 [Accessed 4 October 2012]
4. DirectGov, 2012. Alcohol and Crime. [online] Available at: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/CrimeJusticeAndTheLaw/CrimePrevention/DG_181558 [Accessed 12 September 2012]
5.ComRes poll undertaken for 4Children, August 2012.
6. Netmums Survey undertaken for 4Children, September 2012. N= 176