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7.5 Million US Kids Live With A Parent With Alcohol Problems

Main Category: Pediatrics / Children’s Health
Also Included In: Alcohol / Addiction / Illegal Drugs;  Mental Health
Article Date: 16 Feb 2012 – 2:00 PST

Using data from a national survey, a new government report released on Thursday reveals that 10.5 per cent of children under the age of 18 (7.5 million of this population) in the US live with a parent who has experienced an alcohol use disorder in the past year.

The report was released to coincide with Children of Alcoholics Week, which runs from 12 to 18 February.

Children who live with an alcoholic parent are at greater risk of parental neglect or abuse. They also have a greater risk of developing mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, depression, and problems with cognitive and verbal skills.

For the report, analysts from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), used data from the organization’s 2005-2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The nationwide survey is conducted every year and covers about 67,500 people aged 12 and over.

SAMHSA uses the definition of alcohol use disorder given in the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-IV). The term includes dependence or abuse of alcohol.

According to the report, 6.1 of the 7.5 million children live with two parents, where either one or both has experienced problems with alcohol in the past year.

The remaining 1.4 million are in a single-parent household where that parent has experienced an alcohol disorder in the past year. Of those, 1.1 million live with their mother, and 0.3 million with their father.

SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S Hyde told the press:

“The enormity of this public health problem goes well beyond these tragic numbers as studies have shown that the children of parents with untreated alcohol disorders are at far greater risk for developing alcohol and other problems later in their lives.”

“SAMHSA and others are promoting programs that can help those with alcohol disorders find recovery – not only for themselves, but for the sake of their children. SAMHSA is also playing a key role in national efforts to prevent underage drinking and other forms of alcohol abuse,” she added.

For more information on how to help children living with an alcoholic parent, visit the National Association for Children of Alcoholics or the SAMHSA’s Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness websites.

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD
Copyright: Medical News Today