Monica Lennon urges action for children and young people affected by alcohol harm

Monica Lennon MSP is calling for urgent action to give young people a ‘chance at childhood’ as experts warn more support is needed for children affected by harmful drinking within the home.

Monica Lennon at First Minister's Questions

Monica Lennon MSP

Ahead of Children of Alcoholics Week (11-17 February), Monica Lennon has written to the Minister for Childcare and Early Years Maree Todd to request the Scottish Government acts to help children and young people affected by alcohol harm.

Official statistics have revealed the extent of alcohol abuse in Scotland, with a recent report from NHS Health Scotland showing that alcohol was related to 3,700 deaths and over 40,000 hospital admissions last year, whilst the latest annual Scottish Health Survey found that 51,000 children in Scotland are being raised by parents who are problem drinkers.

The Labour MSP, whose father died in 2015 due to alcohol-related illness, drew on her personal experience at First Ministers Questions last year to draw Nicola Sturgeon’s attention to an increase in the number of alcohol and drugs related deaths and the difficulties for families affected.

Lennon has also called on the Scottish Government to initiate a national information campaign to raise awareness about the impacts of problem drinking, and has been invited to meet the Minister for Public Health to discuss the issue.

Monica Lennon MSP said:

“Too many childhoods are blighted by alcohol harm. Throughout the 2018 Year of Young People the Scottish Government will be celebrating children and young people and seeking to fulfil its ambition for Scotland to be the best place possible for them to grow up.

“Meanwhile, 51,000 children in Scotland are living with a problem drinker in the family home, which equates to around 1 in every 18 children. I urgently want to see these children and young people receive the recognition and support they need. They deserve a chance at childhood.

“That’s why I’ve written to the Minister for Childcare and Early Years, to ask her to consider the ways which the Scottish Government can provide practical support to these young people. 
“Those affected by harmful drinking deserve to have someone championing their rights and experiences, and I hope that we can make full use of the upcoming opportunities around the refresh of the alcohol strategy to ensure that their voices are heard.”


Justina Murray, CEO, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs commented:

“Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs welcomes the work undertaken by Monica Lennon MSP to highlight the impact of parental drinking on children,young people and families. This impact is significant, however so often it remains hidden due to the secrecy, shame and stigma felt by family members trying to cope with little recognition or support. 

SFAD CEO Justina Murray and Monica Lennon MSP

SFAD CEO Justina Murray and Monica Lennon MSP


Even where need has been identified, our experience is that support services often focus on younger children (pre-school or primary age) or adults. There is a real gap in support for young people (age 12 years and over) affected by alcohol in the home – which may include those with siblings, parents or other family members who are problem drinkers. We are marking the Year of Young People 2018 by engaging with young people aged 12-25 years around their experiences of alcohol in the family, and working with them to develop and test out support models which meet their own needs and preferences.
Hearing stories from people in public life – like Monica – plays an important role in tackling the stigma of family addiction. It encourages family members to realise that they are not alone, and that help and support is available.

Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland:

“Around 1 in 4 Scots are regularly drinking too much. Drinking has become so normal and acceptable that the problems it causes to other people, particularly children, are often overlooked. The impacts can start before birth, resulting in children being born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, as well as affecting children as they grow up. A third of children live with a parent who binge drinks, and around 50,000 children in Scotland live with a parent who has an alcohol problem.

Alison Douglas, Chief Exec of Alcohol Focus Scotland

Alison Douglas, Chief Exec of Alcohol Focus Scotland

“While every family is different, children and young people who live with someone who drinks too much often say they feel scared, confused, stressed and angry when their parents are drinking. They are also at higher risk of experiencing neglect and domestic violence and often suffer in silence as they don’t know where to get help or are too scared to speak to someone.

“A range of child, young person and family focussed support and information is therefore vital to protect those who are being negatively affected by someone’s drinking. However, it is also critical that more is done to start to reduce the number of children and young people being affected in this way. We know that increasing price, reducing availability and restricting marketing are the most effective ways to reduce alcohol-related harm not only for the drinker, but also for their children.”

If you are concerned about someone else’s alcohol use, please contact the Scottish Families Helpline by calling 08080 10 10 11, email or webchat at

Posted by HLSLabour

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