BBC Home
Explore the BBC



Last Updated: Tuesday June 29 2010 14:16 GMT

Tips for children affected by alcohol

A girl in her room

Thousands of children in the UK are affected by their parents' drinking.

Hilary is from a charity called the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA).

This is her advice for children affected by drink:

"If you think someone in your family drinks too much these suggestions are important, because drinking can affect everyone in the family. Or you may have a friend whose family has a problem with alcohol or drugs. Talk to your friend. Let them know that you care and show them this page of information."

DON'T feel guilty or ashamed about the problem at home. Alcoholism is a disease and is nobody's fault. Anybody who makes fun of alcoholics just doesn't understand the facts.

DON'T try to convince your parent to stop drinking, or argue with them when they're drunk. They're not thinking clearly and may forget what you say.

DON'T water down or pour away your parent's alcohol. It won't work. You have no control over someone else's drinking. You didn't make the problem start and you can't make it stop. It's up to your parent to get treatment. What your parent does is not your responsibility or fault.

DO talk about your feelings with a close friend, relative, teacher or your school head, who will usually help, or someone you feel happy to talk to. Call a helpline. Talking about your feelings is not about telling on your family - it's about taking care of yourself. It can help you feel less alone and that person might be able to help you.

DO get involved in doing fun things at school or near where you live - school clubs or sports activities, scouts or guides, youth clubs etc. Sometimes children from homes with an alcoholic parent worry so much that they forget how to have fun. If things are bad at home, you may not have anyone there who can help you have fun but that doesn't have to stop you. Doing outside activities can help you forget about the problems at home for a while and can help you feel better about yourself.

DO remember that your thoughts and feelings are normal. It's OK to hate the problem of alcoholism and yet love the person who is drinking - both at the same time. All people have mixed-up feelings - it's part of growing up and being human.

DO go to Alateen meetings if you can. Alateen is a charity which runs support groups for young people who have family or friends who are alcoholics. Meeting new friends who understand will help. There are at least 2.05 million adults in the UK who grew up in an alcoholic family. Imagine how many children are living with the problems that alcoholism and addiction can bring into the family today. Although it may sometimes feel that way, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

REMEMBER the Six C's:

I didn't CAUSE it

I can't CONTROL it

I can't CURE it

I can take CARE of myself

I can COMMUNICATE my feelings

I can make healthy CHOICES