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Drink is as bad as drugs in the home

Scotland's "cultural acceptance" of alcohol is undermining attempts to help the children of parents with drink problems, a coalition of charities has claimed.

The charities came together to warn Scotland's new government that there was a lopsided emphasis on drugs among policy-makers, even though re-search has suggested that alcohol misuse is the most common cause of concern when children are asked about their parents' health.

The group, which includes Children 1st, Children in Scotland, Aberlour Childcare Trust, Save the Children, ChildLine Scotland, Barnardo's and the Scottish Out of School Care Network, believes that Scotland's main political parties have failed to recognise the seriousness of parental alcohol misuse.

A report published by Aberlour Childcare Trust earlier this year concluded that society's "tolerant and accepting" attitude to alcohol was having a detrimental impact on vulnerable children. It stated that there was a lack of priority given to children living with parental alcohol misuse - by policy-makers, professionals and the public - owing to a "cultural acceptance" of alcohol.

The report challenged common perceptions about drinking, such as the widely held belief that more parents who drink excessively are likely to maintain a relatively stable home life than those with drug problems. The charities believe such attitudes may explain policy-makers' failure to recognise when alcohol misuse has a strong and negative impact on the quality of life for many children.

Tam Baillie, assistant director of policy and influencing for Barnardo's Scotland, said: "Around 100,000 children are affected by parental alcohol misuse in Scotland compared to 60,000 for drug use. We need to get to the heart of alcohol misuse and its affects on future generations of Scotland.

"Too many children are suffering in silence. Some end up as carers as a result of alcohol misuse in the family. This is a problem we cannot afford to ignore, and an unfair burden to place on our children."

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