7.5 Million Children Live With An Alcoholic Parent
February 16, 2012

7.5 Million Children Live With An Alcoholic Parent

More than one in ten children in the United States live with a parent who has had an alcohol disorder within the past year, and are at an increased risk of developing a host of mental health problems, according to a new study released today.

Researchers with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) analyzed national data from the 2005-2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and discovered that around 7.5 million children -- 10.5 percent of US children under 18 -- lived with an alcoholic parent during any given year.

And 6.1 million of those children lived in two-parent households where one or both parents were alcohol abusers, the researchers found. The remaining 1.4 million children who lived in a single-parent household where the adult had a drinking problem, roughly 81 percent (1.1 million) were in female-headed homes, and the rest in male-headed homes, said SAMHSA.

SAMHSA also found that children in homes with alcoholic parents were also more likely to be abused or neglected by their parents, more likely to have cognitive or language deficiencies, and four times as likely to become alcoholics themselves.

“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,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde.

“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 explained.

There are a number of resources available to help children with a parent who has an alcohol problem. The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (www.nacoa.org) provides information and resources for professionals who may be in a position to help these children and their families. There are additional resources available at SAMHSA´s website as well (www.samhsa.gov/prevention).

SAMHSA also offers an online treatment locator service at www.samhsa.gov/treatment or by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

NSDUH is an annual survey of nearly 67,500 people throughout the US, aged 12 and older. Because of its statistical power, it is the country´s best source of statistical information on the scope and nature of substance abuse and behavioral health issues affecting the United States.

The study was accomplished in conjunction with Children of Alcoholics Week, February 12 - 18, 2012.


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