Around 200,000 children in Ireland have parents experiencing problems with alcohol, according to new research from University College Cork (UCC).
The UCC study, conducted together with Alcohol Action Ireland, also found that 400,000 adults in Ireland were raised in households in which alcohol abuse was a feature.
The study examined the issue of parental problem-drinking and profiled how children who were exposed to this adverse childhood experience (ACE) coped with the issue at school.
The researchers say their study shows how parents' drinking issues can have life-long implications on their child's physical and mental health.
AAI and UCC are now recommending that schools and teachers be given guidance on how to recognise children exposed to these ACE’s so that appropriate support measures can be properly implemented.
They are also seeking the development of a national strategy to deal with the issue.
Today we publish a paper that considers the issue of parental problem alcohol use and how children, who are exposed to this Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), cope during their school years.— AlcoholActionIreland (@AlcoholIreland) November 3, 2020
Read our paper 👇https://t.co/nXS7SYaBN6 pic.twitter.com/6SlXmks8qD
Though the research was carried out before the Covid-19 pandemic, the AAI also believes that more young people may be experiencing issues in the home due to alcohol because of recent and current lockdowns.
The researchers say that, since the outbreak of the virus in March, many of Ireland’s alcohol users likely substituted most of their drinking from regulated licensed premises to consumption in the home.
They say that this increase in exposure to this increase in parental home drinking came along with school closures, summer activities being curtailed, and lack of access to peer support.
Commenting on the study, Dr Sharon Lambert, School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork said that similar “trauma-aware approaches” had already been developed in schools in other countries.
She said: "In contrast, there are no trauma-aware frameworks or resources to support schools in Ireland.
Speaking today, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, Dr Sheila Gilheany said that schools could provide the necessary "support, friendship and opportunities" children require to protect themselves against "against some harmful impacts of ACEs such as parental alcohol dependence."
"Now more than ever, children and young people need their schools not just to be a place of learning, but to be a place of refuge and support for other issues in their lives."
- You can read the full Alcohol Action Ireland report here.