Reduce Alcohol Intake
According to the American Addiction Centre, a parent's alcohol abuse can raise the risk of child abuse, particularly physical and sexual abuse. Children also face an increased potential for neglect; a mother who drinks may not be available to attend to her child in all areas of life. Photo: Pixabay

A government-backed programme intended to support families dealing with alcohol misuse has proved successful following an independent evaluation that was published today by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. The Children of Alcohol Dependant Parents (CADeP) Programme Innovation Fund, which ended in March 2022, has delivered better and more accessible support to children and encouraged alcohol-dependent parents to seek treatment for their addiction.

Over four years, the programme provided a total of £5.7 million to nine Local Authorities across England including West Sussex County Council, Portsmouth City Council, and Brighton and Hove City Council. The money was used to create better and more innovative systems that can identify and support children with alcohol-dependent parents, whilst raising awareness of parental conflict.

According to Alcohol Policy UK, the nine innovation fund projects were chosen to demonstrate "a new and creative approach to reach and support families whose lives have been affected by alcohol."

The published report states that the children involved have benefited greatly from a wide variety of interventions including activities that helped them explore their feelings and understand their parents' drinking habits, creating a safety plan, and also finding someone to rely on for support.

Aside from supporting the children, the report also highlighted that parents participating in the programme received the help they needed to address conflicts and relationship issues, leading to a boost in their own well-being.

The Local Authorities have received £532 million from the government, encouraging them to invest in and improve their treatments for drug and alcohol addiction, and recovery services through the Drug Strategy Fund. This funding would enable the authorities to develop further programmes which provide support tailored to whole families affected by drug and alcohol addiction.

A woman drinking wine
According to the Children's Commissioner for England's data on childhood vulnerability, there were 478,000 children living with a drug or alcohol-dependent parent from 2019 to 2020. UnsplashAlfonso Scarpa

To address such a complex and sensitive topic, this scheme was run by both the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions working in conjunction with each other, considering parental alcohol misuse can often lead to intense parental conflict.

Health Minister, Neil O'Brien, has commented on the success of the programme, saying: "Alcohol misuse can ruin lives and destroy families, and can have a particularly devastating impact on children. The toll it can take on their mental health and wellbeing can last throughout their lives".

The Minister continued: "We owe it to these children to make sure support is available. This scheme has equipped local authorities with the tools they need to get people into treatment and on the road to recovery and this independent review clearly demonstrates the success of the scheme. I'd encourage local authorities right across England to use the funding we've provided to adopt similar approaches and to get more people into treatment."

Department of Work and Pensions Minister Viscount Younger of Leckie commented on the matter, stating: "Through our Reducing Parental Conflict programme we are acutely aware that parental alcohol dependency often co-exists with relationship problems and negatively affects children's wellbeing."

Younger concluded by saying: "To learn that parents reported improved well-being, increased life satisfaction and better relationships because of our interventions is very encouraging news indeed. The results of this work will provide an important evidence-base to help thousands more families lead happier, more fulfilling lives."