In Ireland, over a generation, since the early 1960’s, our total consumption of alcohol (everyone above 15 years old) has increased nearly threefold, from 4.9 litres per capita in 1960 to a peak of 14.3 litres in 2001. The median plateau commencing from the late 1970’s through to the early years of the new century.
Working within the dataset of the National Alcohol Diary Survey (Ireland:2013), the Health Research Board (2016) stated that more than half (54%) of drinkers were classified as harmful drinkers; when the proportion of survey respondents who were classified as harmful drinkers is applied to the population, this equates with between 1.3 and 1.4 million harmful drinkers
With increased awareness of alcohol related harms, Alcohol Action Ireland and other aligned organisations, supported by public health and social science researchers, have sought to examine the impact of such harms on children, past and present, and to understand the scale of the issue.
A substantial body of literature over the last two decades indicates a recurring trend within the lives of our children, that speaks to somewhere between 1 in 6 or 7 children continue to suffer the unnecessary impact of alcohol related harms and experience a life conditioned by someone else’s choices.
Given the prolonged historical trend in alcohol consumption that accelerated from the late 1970’s, spiking in the early 2000s, it is reasonable to extrapolate that there is a cohort of Adults today who experienced significant alcohol related harms as children, and who today, continue to carry the effects of such trauma. Our population of those under 49 (born 1970) and over 18, stands at just over 2 million, so adopting the 2009 indicator – 1 in 7 finding, it could be assessed that 286,000 adults today face the challenges of overcoming their personal trauma alone.
Taking an over 50 but under 75 cohort, a population of 1.182 million, and applying the 2010 data – 1 in 10 (mindful of then lower consumption data), this impacted group grows by a further 118,000.
This would indicate that approximately 400,000 people in Ireland today are Adult Children from Alcohol impacted families.
In the current reality and adopting the 2018 data – 1 in 6 finding, it is likely that over 200,000 children, today, are living with the traumatic circumstances of a childhood arrested by alcohol related harms and within families where parental alcohol misuse is a frequent event.
These Adult Children of our immediate past and the Children impacted today, are largely voiceless in our society, hidden behind a wall of stigma and isolation, unsure of their hopes and uncertain of their futures.
In recognition of this reality, and the challenges this vulnerable group of people face, Alcohol Action Ireland have commenced a new initiative called ‘Silent Voices ’.
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