Hidden Harm

Information on Hidden Harm

• It is estimated that there are at least 40,000 children and young people in Northern Ireland

affected by parental substance misuse

• Approximately 5 times more young people are affected by parental alcohol misuse than

parental drug misuse

• Parental alcohol misuse can lead to a range of issues within the family and may have serious

consequences for children and young people


Possible impact on young people

• Disorganised routines may lead to children missing meals, being late for school or inadequate


• Parents may prioritise alcohol leading to not being emotionally or physically available for their

children or a lack of money

• Alcohol misuse may increase the likelihood of other problems such as domestic violence or

mental health issues


Signs to look out for

• Children and young people may be very reluctant to talk about their problems when a parent

drinks too much alcohol due to a fear of repercussions or through shame

• Children may react differently to what they are experiencing at home- some may seem

withdrawn or angry, some may be distracted or tired and some may show no ill effects at all


Messages for Young People

• Research has shown that many children and young people may share beliefs about their

parent’s drinking and it is important to convey to children the following key messages:

• You didn’t cause it

• You can’t cure it

• You can’t control it

• But you can learn to take care of yourself better


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