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WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that almost 5 million alcohol-dependent or alcohol-abusing parents have at least one child living at home with them. These parents were more likely to smoke cigarettes, use illicit drugs and report household turbulence than other parents.
"Children living in homes with alcohol-dependent or abusing parents are at high risk of also becoming alcohol and drug abusers, with the potential of perpetuating the disease when they have their own children," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said. "The good news is children of alcoholic parents can be helped to build on their strengths and develop resilience to overcome their difficulties. We must also reach out to the parents and offer them an opportunity for recovery by encouraging them to enter and remain in substance abuse treatment."
SAMHSA released this new report during this year's observance of Children of Alcoholics Week. SAMHSA also partnered with the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) this week to develop and distribute materials to community-based organizations to help them initiate local activities that can help reach children and youth who live in family environments dominated by alcohol.
The data, derived from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, show that the almost five million parents with problems with alcohol who have children under age 18 at home constitute over a quarter (28 percent) of all adults with alcohol dependence or abuse. The majority of these parents (62 percent) are male and most of the parents (69 percent) were married.
The standard for determining alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse is the criteria in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
The data consistently show that parents who misuse alcohol are more likely to also use illicit drugs. The data indicate that over 35 percent of parents with " ... past year alcohol dependence or abuse" used illicit drugs in the past year, compared with only 11 percent of parents without alcohol problems.
Parents with alcohol problems were more likely to use marijuana, 25.8 percent compared with 7.1 percent; prescription drugs used nonmedically, 16.3 percent versus 5.0 percent; cocaine, 9.5 percent versus 1.2 percent; hallucinogens, 3.1 percent versus 0.6 percent; and heroin 0.4 percent versus 0.1 percent.
Parents with alcohol problems were more likely to use cigarettes, 57.9 percent versus 30.6 percent, and were more likely to report living in turbulent homes. However, past year physical violence between parents and their spouses or partners did not differ significantly by whether or not the parent was alcohol-dependent or alcohol-abusing.
The report, "Alcohol Dependence or Abuse Among Parents with Children Living in the Home" was developed from SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This survey interviews 68,126 respondents in their homes. The new report is available online at http://DrugAbuseStatistics.samhsa.gov.
Also available from SAMHSA is a Children's Program Kit. The kit was developed by SAMHSA in partnership NACoA and covers a wide variety of topics and practical teaching strategies for providing educational lessons and support to elementary, middle and upper school children of alcohol abusing parents. The kit also contains information for therapists to distribute to their clients to help parents understand the needs of their children, as well as training materials for substance abuse treatment staff who plan to offer support groups for children.
SAMHSA is a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is responsible for improving the accountability, capacity and effectiveness of the nation's substance abuse prevention, addictions treatment and mental health service delivery systems.