Children of Alcoholics Week Declared in Boston

By Britni de la Cretaz 02/17/17

Mayor Marty Walsh hopes that by declaring this week, it will begin to open a conversation about the challenges these children face.

Child hugging parental figure.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) recently announced that the annual observance of Children of Alcoholics Awareness Week 2017 would take place from February 12 to February 18.  

Earlier this week, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the city of Boston would also be recognizing the week via a proclamation. He outlined his reasons for joining the international awareness campaign in the document, which was sent out in a press release by the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR).

The proclamation laid out some of the difficulties that children whose parents struggle with alcoholism must face, stating that one in every four children in the United States has at least one parent who struggles with alcoholism.

Children of alcoholics themselves are at four times greater the risk for alcoholism, addiction, depression and trauma if their parents’ issues are not identified early enough, which would allow the children to receive the help and support they need.

However, since children of alcoholics have been shown to benefit from supportive programs and care, Mayor Walsh’s statement indicates the importance of declaring a week that recognizes those children who are living with alcoholic parents.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) has developed programming to help such children, and the Massachusetts affiliate of the organization, Children of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (COASA), offers these services at the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps. The services offered include support groups, individual therapy, and school-based support services.

NACoA has also created the Celebrating Families!™ program, an evidence-based, skill-building program for families who have been impacted by addiction. The program works with parents who have substance use disorders and their children under age 17. It is a 16-week program that uses cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions in an attempt to break the cycle of addiction and related issues that are often intergenerational in families.

Mayor Walsh said he hopes that this awareness week will open a conversation about the challenges these children face.

Maureen McGlame, Director of COASA, penned a statement that was sent to The Fix in an email. McGlame wrote, “The shame and stigma still associated with this disease in families make it culturally taboo to talk about.” But, the statement continues, unless the community begins to talk about it, “the transgenerational impact of this disease will continue to go from one generation to the next, the DON’T TALK rule will continue to remain in effect, lives will be damaged, destroyed and lost and we will only have ourselves to hold responsible.”

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.