The first time children are witness to addiction is typically within their own household. A new report conducted by the government found that 7.5 million children in the United States, 10.5 percent, live with a parent who is an alcoholic or has experienced an alcohol use disorder in the past year.
6.1 million of these children live with two parents, one or both of whom have experienced an alcohol use disorder in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The other 1.4 million children live in at home with a single parent, of those children, 1.1 million lived in households headed by a female.
According to SAMHSA, children who live with a parent with an alcohol use disorder are at a greater risk for:
- anxiety disorders
- problems with cognitive and verbal skills
- parental abuse or neglect
These children are four times more likely than children who don’t live with an alcoholic to develop alcohol problems themselves, the agency notes.
“The enormity of this public health problem goes well beyond these tragic numbers as studies have shown that the children of parents with untreated alcohol disorders are at far greater risk for developing alcohol and other problems later in their lives,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release.
The report was released in conjunction with Children of Alcoholics Week, February 12-18, 2012.