Our literary event is raising money for The National Association for Children Of Alcoholics (Nacoa)
Nacoa offers information, advice and emotional support to children affected by parental drinking.
Each year, Nacoa holds Children Of Alcoholics Week, to raise awareness of the estimated 1 million children living with an alcohol-dependent parents.
Below is the COA Week blog, which we hope goes some way in explaining why Nacoa is such an important charity.
“I listened to the radio for as long as I could bear on my car journey last week. Every news bulletin seemed to have the same purpose; to make me very angry about the state of our country, if not the world. Today’s 24-hour media is all pervading, and it is easy to become de-sensitised, easy to miss the fundamental problems that play out in our society, every day, in front of our eyes. Such a challenge is exactly what Nacoa faces in ‘Children Of Alcoholics week’, which starts today. So, what does Nacoa want to achieve with this week?
Firstly, we want people to know that there are almost 1 million children in the UK living with an alcohol dependent parent.
Secondly, we want people to suspend judgement of those parents.
I am sure many people will question why they should care about an issue they may consider to be self made.
The answer is that to not care will leave another generation to suffer the legacy of addiction.
Studies show that children of alcoholics are:
Twice as likely to be in trouble with the police
Twice as likely to develop alcoholism themselves
Three times as likely to have an addiction to drugs
Five times as likely to have an eating disorder
Three times as likely to consider suicide
The inheritance tax for a child of an alcoholic is the highest rate of all.
Many services exist to support alcoholics and their families but Nacoa is the only UK charity supporting children whose parents have not acknowledged that there is a problem.
Nacoa runs a free, confidential helpline for children affected by parental alcoholism.
Children calling the helpline tell our volunteers about problems at school because they have been awake all night listening to arguments and fall asleep in class. Some don’t eat properly because there is no money for food; they may not ever get their clothes washed and some will suffer abuse.
Marked out by their peers for being different, falling behind with their studies due to lack of parental support, the alcoholism at home begins to seep through every area of a child’s life.
It isn’t hard then, to see the cycle developing and how if their needs for attention affection and security continue to go unmet, they could carry such emotional issues into adulthood.
I earlier quoted a statistic of 1 million children being affected.
The fact is there could be so many more, because alcoholism is the family secret.
The drinking is kept secret for many reasons: shame, embarrassment, fear of betraying the family, fear of being taken away. ..there is still a stigma surrounding alcoholism.
This stigma creates a barrier between a child and opportunity.
Nacoa offers information, advice and emotional support for children.
Most of all we offer a safe place, without judgement.
Callers to the helpline learn that it is not their fault.
They learn that they didn’t cause their parents drinking.
They learn that there is no need to feel shame.
At Nacoa, there is no stigma.
Nacoa helps them to make healthy decisions for themselves so that they can lead full and happy lives regardless of whether their parent continues to drink.
COA week is about highlighting how many children are living with this problem and how, if we suspend judgement and blame we make it that much easier for them to get the help that they need.
We may mark COA Week annually, but at Nacoa every week is COA Week and we continue to raise awareness of the 1 million children living with an alcohol-dependent parent.
Things are changing, but slowly, for some children change will come too late.
There is still a long way to go and one day we might just get there”.