Child Helpline Receives Calls from Children Concerned Over Parental Drug Use

As tragic as it may seem, children may be the lifeline necessary for an alcohol or drug addicted parent. In the UK, children have access to ChildLine, a helpline that allows children to call in with concerns over the drinking or drug use habits of their parents.

According to a recent BBC report, the helpline received a total of 150,000 calls in the 2009-10 year. The NSPCC has reported that more than 100 children every week have contacted the helpline with concerns over the habits of parents. While such numbers seem high, ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen believes the number of those afraid to make the call is even higher.

Of the children who made use of the helpline, two-thirds had called to report their parents’ drinking. Rantzen says that those children who call about alcohol are more likely to call the helpline than children calling about other issues. She is imploring those who work with children to be aware of the silent child who appears to have no friends and the potential trouble that may exist at home due to alcohol and drugs.

One of the issues coming to light among callers to the helpline is that children – some as young as five years old – are trying to cope with the role reversal happening in their homes. Too often, these young children have to look after their parents and even brothers and sisters.

Statistics show that children who live with alcohol or drug addicted parents are more at risk of harm than children not living in such conditions. The more likely they are to use a helpline like ChildLine, the more likely they can improve their environment and reduce their risk of harm.