Daily Archives: 23/01/2014

The secondary effects of drinking

I love my job as I get to work with children and young people in public health.  Unfortunately though whereas in one of my previous nursing specialities I dealt with the physical primary effects of drinking on alcoholics, in this role I deal with the environmental secondary effects of drinking.  What I mean by that is part of my role involves safeguarding children and many of them are under our care because of parental alcohol abuse and dependency.

There have been 2 serious case reviews in the UK in the recent past that have been picked up by the national media.  These were for the deaths of Daniel Pelka and Hamzah Khan.

In the cases of both these children there were many interlinking factors that contributed to their abuse and eventual deaths that included domestic violence, and in the case of Hamzah Khan, maternal mental ill health.  In both cases alcohol abuse and dependency was also present and this is mirrored in local serious case review reports.

Alcohol Concern produced a report in October 2010 called ‘Swept under the carpet: Children affected by parental alcohol misuse’ and it makes grim reading.  The report includes key statistics that include:

  • There is evidence of parental substance misuse in 57% of serious case reviews
  • In a study of four London Boroughs, almost two thirds (62%) of all children subject to care proceedings had parents who misused substances.
  • Alcohol plays a key part in 25-33% of known cases of child abuse
  • Alcohol use is a feature in a majority of domestic abuse offences

I am not sharing these facts to depress but to highlight an area of concern that I see on a daily basis that the UK govt seems to fail to acknowledge when looking at the effects of harmful drinking.  When the impact of harm from secondary smoking was evidenced smoke free laws were implemented.  When will the same level of importance be attached to the impact of the secondary effects of drinking?

 ‘Alcoholism is hidden because it is legal – it’s swept under the carpet’ Girl aged 13