Last week was Children of Alcoholics (COA) awareness week. While it was and is helpful to recognize the substance abuse potential of alcohol, sadly, it is not the only substance that can be abused in the home.
Alcohol or any substance abuse can affect an individual’s health and ACEs score
One of many Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is when a child is raised in a home where there is ongoing addicition to and abuse of a substance. The effect to the child’s health and well-being is long-lasting and detrimental.
While any addiction or substance abuse is serious, those of the most serious degree create a significant dysfunction within a family to the point of behaviors toward one another that may be criminally abusive or neglectful. The following article by Mary Beth Collins gives us thoughts on the importance of recognizing the impact of alcoholism and other drug abuse in the lives of our children.
While addiction, with an emphasis today on opioid addiction, is very much a part of the political and public discourse, the needs of the children hurt by addiction in the family – too often with lifetime consequences – are seldom part of the conversation. The confusion, fear and helplessness present in their daily lives creates a chronic emotional trauma that is unseen and unaddressed in their homes, their schools and their faith communities. It is also too frequently ignored in the family doctor’s office.
Countless adults interact regularly with these children and neither say nor do anything to provide them clarity about their lives or how to find and connect with a safe and caring adult. This is one of the greatest public health problems in our country right in front of the people who could make a difference — if only they would learn how and then do it. In the meantime, absence from “the conversation” continues to support this hidden human rights problem. We know what to do, but we continue to lack the will to do it, and that is Why [we have] COA Awareness Week.
“Help is Waiting” is the 2017 COA Awareness Week theme. How appropriate! Many caring adults see children who need support and hope, but they don’t have enough understanding about what to do to be effective.
Welcome to Help!
Throughout the NACoA website, many helpful tools and suggestions are available for those who want to reach out and support a frightened, nearby hurt child or teen. The site also provides additional material specifically for the impacted child. Share these tools with a child — or a whole class, or your colleagues who work with children. Follow us this week on Facebook and Twitter for additional suggestions.
[Even though the COA Awareness week has past], NACoA urges you to follow the “Arrows to Healing” to break the silence that traps young people and changes their confusion and chronic emotional trauma to hope and resilience.
We urge you to imagine the millions of children of alcoholic parents (actually 18.5 million in the US alone), who wait for at least one caring adult to speak up and offer support. You can be that “one.” Just follow the arrows.
- Awareness leads to Empathy in a caring adult.
- Empathy strengthens the ability and the desire to Understand the child’s silent but desperate reality.
- Understanding motivates towards Action — both to help a child directly and to advocate for appropriate educational support programs for them.
- Effective Action leads to…
- Support that brings …
- Hope and Healing, making it possible…
- For the children to tap into their own Resilience — and Recovery.
And that is Why COA Awareness Week!
If you know of a child whose family has significant substance abuse, you can do something about it. You can speak up, provide support and hope for the addict as well as the child. Doing so may save a life and save an entire family from a life of misery and difficulty.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network