Alcoholic Parent
© Daily Record and Sunday Mail
Little girl cuddles into drunken dad in doorway.
One youngster in 10 is living with an alcoholic parent in Scotland, shocking figures reveal. The research shows that up to 93,000 youngsters under the age of 16 are living with one or more parents with a drinkproblem.

Experts warned yesterday that kids were being raised in unstable, chaotic homes plagued by emotional and physical abuse.

Yesterday, kids' protection charity Children 1st said more needed to be done to protect youngsters from abuse, violence or neglect caused by their parents' boozing.

Anne Houston, the charity's chief executive, said: "Up to 93,000 children in Scotland - or one in 10 - could be bearing the brunt of our nation's attitude to alcohol. That should give us all cause for concern.

"From our work helping children recover from the trauma of violence fuelled by alcohol misuse, we know that many of them feel those negative effects for years, with some suffering from depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.

"Too many children are missing out on their childhoods because of their parents' drinking and we all have a responsibility to stop this from happening."

The latest figures were calculated from Scottish Government health surveys. They reveal that between 72,000 and 93,000children at are risk of harm from their parents' drinking.

SNP MSP Marco Biagi said: "We've known for some time that children often bear the brunt of our nation's attitude to alcohol but these figures reveal the scale of the problem.

"Key to addressing the issue is reducing the amount of alcohol adults consume.

"That is exactly what the Scottish Government is focused on doing, through its framework for action on alcohol, investment in health interventions and, most recently, in introducing a minimum price for alcohol. All these measures give us a real chance of changing the culture around alcohol and ensuring that children get the best start in life."

Joy Barlow, head of training on drugs and alcohol at Glasgow University, said that, until now, the true extent of children living with alcoholic parents had been hidden.

She said: "I was a member of the Scottish Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs which produced the Hidden Harm report about the needs of children of problem drug users. I think alcohol is even more of a hidden problem because we have a very ambivalent attitude in society towards it.

"It is legal, cheap and fuels many of the experiences we have, such as celebrations.

"But children of alcohol misusers are not only deprived of emotional stability and wellbeing, they can be exposed to domestic violence, which has a detrimental effect on their development.

"If children see their parents hitting the bottle as a way of dealing with life's problems, then children are going think all looks better from the bottom of a glass."

As part of the Scottish Government's war on cheap alcohol, booze will cost a minimum of 50p per unit from next April.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon says the move could lead to 60 fewer deaths, 1600 fewer hospital admissions and 3500 fewer crimes in the first year.

Alcohol experts have welcomed the move to tackle Scotland's battle with the bottle.

Katherine Brown, head of policy at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said: "The government needs to take strident action to tackle the problem of alcohol in Scotland, and we would congratulate the Scottish Government in being ambitious in their alcohol policies, for example minimum pricing." But she also warned that parents need to take responsibility to break the cycle of addiction.

Research indicates that children of alcoholics are three times more likely to become dependent on booze.

Katherine Brown said: "One of the biggest influences on children's attitude to alcohol and their pattern of drinking later in life is their parents. Children emulate their parents' behaviour.

"If parents want to help their children have a healthy relationship with alcohol, the best thing to do is behave responsibly and not appear drunk in front of their kids.

"Research shows that the later children begin to drink, the less likely they are to have alcohol problems later on in life.

"It's about delaying the age of regular drinking among younger people.

"Our advice to parents is to leave it as long as they can before introducing their children to alcohol and remember that their behaviour towards alcohol will have an impact on their children."