More than 200,000 children in England are living with adults who are dependent on alcohol, figures suggest
Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health commissioned the University of Sheffield to estimate the number of children living with adults who are seriously dependent on alcohol.
The data also suggests there are 600,000 dependent drinkers who would benefit from treatment, yet only just over 100,000 are currently receiving help.
Overall, around 1.5 million adults in England and Wales are thought to have some form of alcohol dependence, and there are 2.5 million children living with an adult drinking at what is considered “risky” levels.
A separate report from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says the department will increase grants and introduce mentors for people in alcohol recovery to help them get back into work.
Liver specialist Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “We welcome the Government’s recognition that cheap alcohol is damaging some of the most vulnerable groups in society.
“The revelation that 200,000 children in England are living with adults in need of specialist help is deeply worrying. We need to make sure people get the support they need once they have a problem with alcohol, for their own sakes and for the sake of their children.
“But people don’t set out to become dependent drinkers and we need to stop more people from reaching that stage.
“For the greatest impact, the measures announced today should be combined with measures like minimum unit pricing of alcohol.
“Studies have shown that setting a minimum price for alcohol would reduce unemployment and bring substantial numbers of unemployed drinkers back into the workforce.”
Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco at PHE, said: “We’re pleased to see the positive steps Government have made today to help people dependent on alcohol and drugs recover and get back into work.
“These figures estimate the number of children living with a parent or adult dependent on alcohol. Sadly most of these children will be experiencing harm in some way.
“But many other children living with adults, who may not be dependent but with problematic drinking habits, may also be affected.”
Dave Roberts, director general of the industry-funded Alcohol Information Partnership, said: “It is very useful to have an up-to-date estimate of the number of children living with parents heavily dependent on alcohol.
“This data can help target resources and ensure they are focused on helping those with real and consistent problems.
“The children of alcoholics and their families need specialist help and support, whereas the vast majority of people that choose to drink do so in a moderate, convivial and social manner.”