Children of Alcoholics Week Raises Awareness of Children Affected by Parental Alcoholism
Every year during the second week of February many events and programs take place in an effort to boost awareness of the problems that come for children who are raised by alcoholic parents. Children of Alcoholics week kicks off this February from the 10-16 when great care will be taken to make sure that everyone knows they are not alone, help is available and there is hope for recovery.
What is COA Week?
Children of Alcoholics week is a campaign that is led by the National Association of Children of Alcoholics which looks to raise awareness of those children who are negatively affected by parental alcoholism. This internationally celebrated week of awareness falls during the week of Valentine’s Day each year and increases the awareness of this hidden and often overlooked problem. Support and help is offered and the entire week focuses on making sure that children, teens and those who are victims of alcohol problems know that there is help available.
Imagine being a child, coming home from school and not knowing if you will find your mom or dad alive or dead, drunk or sober, happy or mad. Imagine if you couldn’t bring friends home because you were too worried about what they might see or what mom or dad may do when they are drunk. Imagine fearing everything in life because you don’t know what will happen next, imagine a mom or dad who physically, verbally or mentally abuses you because he or she is drunk and doesn’t realize what is going on….imagine being the child of an alcoholic!
The negative effects of children growing up with an alcoholic parent are not only the problem for the child. The economic impact of growing up with an alcoholic parent is also rather extreme. Children who grow up in abusive homes, witness domestic violence, or are subject to the emotional or physical neglect that comes when the parents abuse alcohol subject to lifelong consequences. These children follow a common path of social, emotional and cognitive impairment that can lead to risky behaviors, violence, disease and disability for them as they grow older into adulthood.
Studies estimate that as many as 1 in 4 children have suffered a traumatic experience such as that related to having a parent who abuses alcohol in the home at least once in their lifetime. Nearly two-thirds of them have had at least once adverse childhood experience as a result of substance abuse in the home.
Children of alcoholics tend to grow up in dysfunctional households that are marked by domestic violence, alcohol or other substance abuse taking place in the home, mental illness and suicidal household members, divorce and crime taking place in the home. These effects can have a long-lasting, negative impression on children and are likely to lead to long term consequences for the individual mentally, physically, psychologically and emotionally.
Substance abuse affects nearly 1/3 of all households. There is a high correlation of those who abuse alcohol and other forms of abuse. Alcohol abusers are more likely to abuse their children emotionally, physically or sexually. In fact, 87% of children who grow up in a household in which alcohol or substance abuse is a factor will also suffer another form of abuse such as emotional abuse, sexual abuse or physical abuse.
Help for Children of Alcoholics
The National Association of Children of Alcoholics estimates as many as 11 million children living with parents who are alcoholics or substance abusers. Children who are raised in homes that are impacted by substance abuse struggle with schoolwork, they often have difficulty making friends and they may suffer reduced self-esteem as well as abuse in the home. Fortunately, there is help! That’s what National Children of Alcoholics Awareness Week is all about.
School counseling centers that employ social workers and guidance counselors are often the first place for children to seek help. It’s also important that as social workers or guidance counselors careful attention is paid to discovering the children who are suffering from this often silent killer. Preventative support and assistance is provided for students who may be struggling with alcohol related abuse or problems at home.
Children young and old can also benefit from individual psychotherapy. There are many different types of psychotherapy and each is tailored to meet the individual needs of the patient. Young children may benefit from play therapy in which games and other toys are used to express feelings in a safe environment. Older children often benefit from talk therapy that works to build strength and resilience while focusing on helping the child to heal from adverse reactions to the substance abuse in their home.
Many self-help programs can be found online and in the community. For teens, Alateen is a community program that provides peer support and is a safe meeting place for children of alcoholics to get together with others who have shared in similar experiences. These programs are often provided at adolescent rehab centers as well as throughout the community.
Children of alcoholics who are seeking help can call the helpline 24/7 to talk with a counselor for free. Our counselors can answer questions about therapy, provide referrals to local rehab centers or treatment programs and help you get the help that you need. Call 800-481-6320 to talk to someone who can help.