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The Problem Children of Alcoholics Awareness Week Addresses
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) has named the week of February 11 – February 17, 2018 as Children of Alcoholics Awareness Week. The organization’s mission is, “to eliminate the adverse impact of alcohol and drug use on children and families,” and to ensure that, “no child who struggles because of family addiction will be left unsupported.”
The impact of parental alcoholism on children is incredibly severe and long-lasting. Children of alcoholics are often neglected by parents who are too drunk to properly care for them. They are also considerably more likely to experience physical and emotional abuse, especially when a parent is an “angry drunk.” Perhaps most importantly, children of alcoholics often normalize their parents’ drinking behavior and emulate it later in life. For example, sons of alcoholics are 4 times more likely to develop alcoholism than children of non-alcoholics.
Many children of alcoholics find that they are still severely impacted by their childhood many years, even decades, later. There is a tendency to engage in high risk behaviors, actively self-sabotage success and happiness, and enter into unhealthy relationships. Adult children of alcoholics see higher rates of mental illness and substance abuse and are often less likely to seek help for any issues because they have normalized their situation.
The Goal of Children of Alcoholics Awareness Week
Despite the severity of the problem, there is comparatively little awareness or attention. Most political, media, and scientific attention is focused on alcoholics themselves. In particular, there is a strong focus on treating and preventing alcoholism. The other major victims of alcoholism, families of alcoholics, particularly children, are comparatively ignored.
NACoA (and many other organizations) want to change this. That is why the organization was formed, and it is why it continues to serve an important role in the fight against alcoholism. National Children of Alcoholism Week serves to educate the public about the plight of the many millions of children and adults who continue to be impacted by their parents’ alcoholism. The hope is to provide support to those who don’t have it, convince active alcoholics to seek treatment, prevent future cases of alcoholism from developing, influence policy, and secure additional funding and research to treat alcoholism and the families of alcoholics.
There are many benefits to increased awareness. For one, many children and adults of alcoholic parents are unaware of the many resources available to them. There are resources to help children, parents, friends, and entire families cope with the pain and trauma alcoholism can induce and help start the recovery process. For many who have been struggling alone for many years, these resources can make a tremendously positive influence in their lives. Increased awareness by those who are not directly impacted by alcoholism can also learn to identify the signs and possibly help friends and family who are.
So, how can you celebrate Children of Alcoholic Parents Week? NACoA and other organizations host a number of events that you can take part in, or you can host your own. You can also spread the word to friends and family, especially through social media. You might also want to consider donating your time or your money. No matter what action you take, it is important to take this time to reconsider your relationship with alcohol and your loved ones.