Less than a month ago, we released a Joint Open Letter together with the World Family Organization: Children of Alcoholics – Hidden Human Rights Crisis and SDGs Issue. We also published a new booklet detailing the Human Rights abuses that Children of Alcoholics (CoAs) are often exposed to.

Less than a month ago we commemorated the annual international CoA Week.

I think that every day should be CoA day. The evidence speaks clearly: Children growing up with parents who struggle with alcohol problems are a Human Rights crisis of tremendous proportions. CoAs are greatly exposed to various types of harm:

  • They are five times more likely to develop an eating disorder.
  • They are three times more likely to commit suicide.
  • They are almost four times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder themselves later on in life.
  • In Low- and Middle-Income Countries, children of alcoholics often end up on the streets, where they are often exposed to grave dangers such as violence and crime, human trafficking, and substance abuse.

We must address this tremendous problem urgently. In doing so, we have to ensure that we listen to the stories of the affected children themselves. In our Global Voices portal, we have shared stories from Uganda, telling how children of parents with alcohol problems end up on the streets.

And I also want to share with you Charlotte’s talk on BBC, as she speaks about her father who died several weeks ago. He had battled with alcohol dependency for 10 years.

I’ve worked for the IOGT movement for many years. But every time I hear or read this type of story, it makes my heart ache.

Great strides have been made in bringing the shame of addiction out of the shadows and getting America and the world to believe in recovery.

However, the biggest, little secret remains the countless kids who are being hurt each and every day who don’t get talked about, funded, donated to or brought out of the shadows nearly enough.

That’s a quote of Dr. Tian Dayton, in the the Huffington Post.

Children of alcoholics are not few and far in-between.

Children of alcoholics are one the biggest and saddest examples of the fact that alcohol does harm others than the users themselves. They endure suffering all too often silently and invisibly, fighting an internal battle to keep their dreams alive under the strenuous daily pressure of growing up with parents who struggle with alcohol problem. CoA are the forgotten victims of alcohol harm.

So, as society is finally making progress to end stigma around alcohol problems, lifting the secrecy and shame around being an addict, I think that collectively we need to start to pay attention to lifting the shame and secrecy around growing up in homes ravaged by alcohol.

For further reading:

When Growing Up Hurts: How Parental Addiction Impacts Kids, by Dr. Tian Dayton, Clinical Psychologist and author, Huffington Post, The Blog

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