By Dr Richard Piper - Chief Executive, Alcohol Concern / Alcohol Research UK

Read our statement here.


Today’s [23 April 2018] announcement by Jeremy Hunt, committing £6 million to support children of alcohol dependent parents, is both welcome and vital. We know that there are around 120,000 parents in the UK in need of specialist alcohol treatment, and around 200,000 children live with at least one dependent parent or carer.

It is critical to remember that most people struggling with alcohol are as committed, loving and concerned as any parent. But dependent drinking can be immensely damaging for families, and children are often the hardest hit. We hear their stories almost daily and know that these families are under-recognised as victims of alcohol harm and need better support. This new funding will allow local authorities and civil society organisations to explore innovative new ways to join up children’s support with treatment services and other support systems,  improving the lives of thousands of young people.

This is a very positive initiative. However, it would make an even greater impact in the context of an over-arching national alcohol strategy that sets out a comprehensive approach to preventing people from sliding into harmful drinking as well as supporting those affected by dependency. Under a broader approach, these children’s parents would be able to access support too – and much of these children’s suffering could be avoided in the first place.

It is encouraging to see – both here and in the Government’s recent Drug Strategy – that the Government recognises the role of family support in tackling alcohol problems. Families are often where the greatest harms are felt but, as recent research has confirmed, they can also be the greatest resource for change. This promise of central funding to help improve both support and capacity is a step in the right direction.

If linked to a comprehensive national alcohol strategy, this initiative could be a turning point, improving the lives of thousands of children and adults in need of support.


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