How Problematic Parental Drinking Impacts Children

By Beth Leipholtz 02/16/18

A new study revealed the multitude of ways that parental drinking can be dangerous and sometimes fatal for children.

sad kid holding onto his parent

According to a new study, one in three deaths or serious injuries in children due to neglect or abuse are a result of parental drinking. 

According to The Guardian, the British study, published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, revealed that between 2011 and 2014, alcohol misuse was involved in 37% of cases of a child’s death or serious injury.

Liam Byrne, a Member of Parliament and chairman of the All-Party Group for Children of Alcoholics, told The Guardian that a parent’s drinking can affect a child on various levels. 

“Parental alcohol misuse scars kids for life and can lead many into a life of drinking too much themselves,” he told The Guardian. “Millions of parents drink too much and their misuse of alcohol causes horrific problems for their children.”

The Guardian states that more than half of English councils did not have anything in place to help children of people with alcohol use disorder. Additionally, 92% of the 53 councils surveyed replied that they were cutting budgets for alcohol and drug treatment. 

In surveying children, researchers found that 15% of children had their bedtime routine thrown off due to a parent’s drinking, while 18% had been embarrassed by seeing a parent intoxicated.  

According to The Guardian, Byrne lost his own father to alcoholism in 2015. He said that his group’s campaign had won a “new commitment from government for a national strategy to stop parental alcohol misuse” and that the study exemplified “just why the government must act fast to put an effective plan in place.”

What’s more, the study revealed that 61% of care applications in England involved the misuse of alcohol and/or drugs. It also relayed that children living with parents dependent on alcohol reported feeling socially isolated but also reluctant to seek help. 

“This report lays bare the real and damaging impact parental drinking can have on children,” shadow health secretary, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, told The Guardian. “The findings of this report make me more determined than ever to prioritize tackling addiction while supporting the children and families affected."

Ashworth continued: “Having recently spoken about my own father’s drinking problems, I welcomed the government’s commitment to support children of alcoholics. However, this report emphasizes there is still a long way to go. Almost all local authorities have cut treatment services and many still do not have strategies for children of alcoholics in place."

“It’s time we as a society took these issues more seriously so that children no longer need suffer in silence.”

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.