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A Family Affair? Supporting Children Living With Parental Substance Misuse

A Family Affair? Supporting Children Living With Parental Substance Misuse






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  • Resources section – see section on children affected by harmful parental drinking – report on parental substance misuse and its impact on children by the NACD

A Family Affair? Supporting Children Living With Parental Substance Misuse A Family Affair? Supporting Children Living With Parental Substance Misuse Presentation Transcript

  • A FAMILY AFFAIR? SUPPORTINGCHILDREN LIVING WITH PARENTALSUBSTANCE MISUSECliona MurphyAlcohol Action Irelandwww.alcoholireland.ie Presentation to ICGP conference
  • OVERVIEW Alcohol – harms and costs Alcohol and parenting Impact on children - seeing the family from the child’s perspective Making a difference  Practice  Policy
  • ALCOHOL – WHERE’S THE HARM? 1,500,000 adults drink in a harmful pattern Average consumption in 2010 was 11.9 litres alcohol for every person aged 15+ (equivalent of 125 bottles wine or 45 bottles of vodka or 482 pints) Alcohol responsible for  88 deaths every month in 2008  2,000 beds occupied per night in acute hospitals  28% attendances at A&E
  • ALCOHOL – ECONOMIC BURDEN Health care costs = €1.2 billion Criminal justice system = €1.2 billion Road collisions = €526 million Lost output due to work absences = €330 million To the taxpayer = €3,318 To the shopper - cheap alcohol can be subsidised by increasing price of other goods
  • ALCOHOL AND PARENTING Problems for parents are problems for children Parental alcohol problems can and do cause serious harm to children Children often suffer the impacts of parental alcohol and drug problems long before their parent’s health suffers Each dependent user of alcohol will negatively effect the lives of two other close family members Ask about alcohol use
  • HOW MANY CHILDREN?One in eleven Irish children say parental drinking has a negative effect on their lives – that’s 109,684 children (ISPCC, 2010)A nationally representative survey of 18-40 year olds found that when parents drank weekly or more often:  14% said they often felt afraid or unsafe as a result of their parents’ drinking  14% said they often witnessed conflict between their parents either when they were drinking or as a result of their drinking  11% said they often had to take responsibility for a parent or a sibling  Impact did not differ according to socio-economic class (Alcohol Action Ireland Keeping It In the Family Survey, 2009)
  • HOW MANY CHILDREN? One in ten Irish adults reported that children, for who they had parental responsibility, experienced at least one of the following harms as a result of an adult’s drinking  Left in an unsafe or unsupervised situation  Yelled at, criticised or otherwise verbally abused  Physically hurt  Witness to serious violence in the home (Hope, 2011, National Drinking Survey 2010)
  • IMPACT ON CHILDREN Isolation Fear and Anxiety Conflict in the Home Children take on Parental Responsibilities Abuse and Neglect Poverty
  • IMPACT ON CHILDRENTrauma and distress result when “caregivers not only fail to provide comfort at times of extreme stress, but are themselves the principal source of that stress”
  • LISTENING TO CHILDREN They care more about drink than their children When they are drunk they are in fighting mood He hits me in my sleep when he drinks It puts you off your work in school as you’re thinking about it I don’t get to go anywhere or have fun the next day because I’m minding my brothers It upsets me sometimes – I’m scared at times as well
  • SEEING THE CHILD Who is your client? Seeing the patient as parent  Is their drug/alcohol use impacting on their parenting capacity?  What is the impact on the child on a day to day basis?  Do other agencies need to be involved?  How can you support the patient as parent? The welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration
  • SEEING THE CHILD Parents engaging with effective treatment has positive outcomes for children Bridging the gap between adult treatment and child welfare services Does your agency have policies and procedures for responding to concerns about child welfare and safety? Am I clear about my responsibilities in relation to Children First?
  • MAKING A DIFFERENCE - POLICY Recommendations of the Report of the Steering Group of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Overall aim is to reduce per adult consumption to 9.2 litres Main Recommendations (supply)  Increase price/reduce affordability through excise duty and minimum pricing  Introduce a social responsibility levy on the drinks industry  Phase out sports sponsorship and introduce legislation to restrict advertising  Structural separation of alcohol from other products
  •  Revised low-risk weekly consumption guidelines Labelling of packaged alcohol – grams, calories and health warnings National screening and brief intervention protocol Develop services for children and families and improve interagency working Research and monitoring activities
  • NSMS – SUPPORTING CHILDRENTREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS 12-1412. Develop comprehensive outcomes and evidence based approach to addressing needs of children and families experiencing alcohol dependency problems. This would involve a whole family approach, including the provision of supports and services directly to children where necessaryThis approach should be guided by and co-ordinated with all existing strategies relating to parenting, children and families and in accordance with edicts from the Office for the Minister for Children and the Child & Family Agency13. Explore extent of parental problem substance use through the development of a strategy similar to Hidden Harm in Northern Ireland and respond to the needs of children by bringing together all concerned organisations and services14. Develop family support services
  • WHAT IS HIDDEN HARM?Hidden Harm – Report of an Inquiry of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (2003)Hidden Harm Action Plans developed for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland“These children can suffer in silence; their circumstances are often not known to services; they often do not know where to turn for help; and the impact of their parents’ substance misuse has a deep and long-lasting impact on their lives...”
  • HIDDEN HARM – KEY MESSAGES Estimated one child for every problem drug user in the UK Parental problem drug misuse can, and does, cause serious harm to children at every age from conception to adulthood Reducing the harm to children from parental drug misuse should become a main objective of policy and practice Effective treatment of the parent can have major benefits for the child By working together, services can take many practical steps and improve the health and well- being of affected children
  • SUMMARY Parental alcohol problems can and do cause serious harm to children’s health, development and welfare The welfare of the child is the first and paramount consideration Shifting focus  Seeing the family from the child’s perspective  Seeing the patient as parent  Asking about the child  Asking about alcohol  Reporting concerns A Hidden Harm Action Plan for Ireland