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Addiction Helplines and Bedtime Stories?

Lisa Taylor
Lisa TaylorAddiction Counsellor

There are a lot of reasons alcohol addiction is heartbreaking. For example, imagine a young child ringing the alcohol helpline and asking for a bedtime story because mum or dad is too drunk to read. Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon. It actually happens all the time. It is one of the many aspects of alcoholism that serve as a stark reminder of how far we have to go to solve the problem.

Metro's Nicole Morley explained in a 19 February post that there are as many as 2.5 million children in the UK with at least one alcoholic parent. Those children are innocent victims who must live with the decisions their parents make, decisions that are robbing them of the childhoods they should be experiencing. No one knows this more than the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA).

Morley explains that NACoA helplines encourage counsellors to always be at the ready if a child calls. She told the story of one counsellor who ended up helping a five-year-old girl call emergency services because her addicted mother had locked herself in the bathroom. Mum eventually died.

Another seven-year-old girl rang the NACoA helpline on Christmas Day wanting to hear a story to comfort her as she hid from her drunk parents. The poor child was cold and scared on a day that is supposed to be filled with warmth and love.

Stories Can Comfort Children

It goes without saying that addiction helpline counsellors would rather not have to encounter situations in which children needed stories read to them. But it is what it is. They are glad to be able to help, given that so many kids call looking for answers. If reading a bedtime story can comfort a child for a brief amount of time, it is something counsellors are willing to do.

Morley says that the Metro interviewed a leading psychotherapist to find out how long-term alcohol dependence among parents affects their children. The answers weren't good. The Metro learned that children neglected by alcoholic or drug-addicted parents essentially live like orphans. Not only do they have to take care of themselves, but they also tend to grow up in fear, with low self-esteem, and with a sense of being abandoned and unloved.

Reading stories to children who call addiction help lines certainly doesn't solve the problem. However, it can bring a sense of comfort in the moment, comfort that could make the difference later on. That's why it's so important for counsellors to be ready to assist children when they call.

In closing, it's important to address parents who use alcohol or drugs. We want you to understand that what you do is affecting your children in many ways. They don't deserve it. They are innocent victims of a life you have chosen for yourself. If not for your own physical and mental health, will you not get help now for the benefit of your kids? Give them the kind of future you would wish for yourself.

Sources:

Metro – http://metro.co.uk/2017/02/19/children-of-alcoholics-are-calling-helplines-to-hear-bedtime-stories-6459605/

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