In recent years, there’s been a significant decline in social drinking. Some individuals choose to embrace sobriety for its health benefits, others are grappling with alcohol addiction but regardless of the reason, it's undeniable that alcohol leaves a lasting impact on many people's childhoods.
Whether it’s from watching parents engaging in social drinking or witnessing a loved one suffering with alcohol dependency, alcohol’s impact can be significant during a child’s formative years. Although we cannot change the past, we do have the power to shape the future which starts with recognising the profound influence that alcohol can have on childhood and creating healthier boundaries for future generations.
So, let's dive into the latest data and examine not just how it affects a child's health, but also the long-term consequences and social implications.
The health of Children – mental and physical
Based on data from the combined 2009 to 2014 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, about 1 in 8 children (aged 17 or younger) lived in households with at least one parent who had a past year substance use disorder. SUDs are characterised by recurrent use of alcohol or other drugs (or both) that result in significant impairment.
From short-term developmental challenges to long-term emotional struggles,
growing up in an environment with excessive alcohol use can leave a lasting mark on both physical and emotional well-being. Similarly, children whose parents struggle with substance use disorders may face adverse effects such as lower socioeconomic status and increased challenges in academic, social, and family settings compared to children living with parents without an SUD.
Alcohol’s impact on parenting
Parents have a lot to juggle like work stressors, worrying about finances, and then coming home and managing a household. Facing life's challenges can be overwhelming, and sometimes, a glass of wine feels like the perfect remedy to ease the tension. What we need to remember is that kids absorb everything around them, observing and learning from our actions. Even seemingly innocent acts, such as sipping that glass after a tough day at work, can inadvertently signal to children that alcohol is a crutch to cope with stress. Instead of relying solely on drinking to escape reality, we should explore numerous healthier alternatives to unwind and destress. There's a whole world of possibilities out there!
It's also no secret that a couple of drinks can affect decision-making and behaviour, not just on the night of drinking, but the following morning too. In 2018, figures obtained by AlcoSense Breathalysers showed that eight per cent of women with dependent children exceeded nine units of alcohol on their heaviest drinking day in the past week.
It was even worse for men with around 10 per cent exceeding 12 units on their heaviest drinking day in a week but it was noted that, typically, less men do the school run. Because of this it was estimated that with 2.5 million mothers driving their children to school, around 200,000 would still be the worse for wear on at least one day a week.
Cheers to a Brighter Future
Here’s the good news - according to recent research, 34% of US adults are trying to drink less in 2023 and the statistics show a similar trend in the UK but the impact of alcohol on childhood is a multifaceted issue that requires collective action and awareness. Let's raise our glasses, not just to acknowledge the problem, but to toast to a future where our children can grow up in healthier, safer, and happier environments. Together, we can make a positive difference and pave the way for a brighter tomorrow for our kids.
Written by Miriah Macias
Miriah is a supermom and wife who’s all about sober living and spreading the joy of the teetotaler life. She’s on a mission to bring resources to all the party people out there who want to ditch the booze and still have a blast. Miriah knows that community is everything when it comes to staying sober, and she’s a big fan of cheering on the benefits of the booze-free lifestyle. Check out her awesome contributions to Addiction Treatment Magazine, and get ready to embrace your inner sober rockstar!