Influence of alcohol on families is rising, say social workers

Most social workers believe family problems related to parental alcohol misuse are on the rise but don’t feel they have enough training to tackle the problem, according to a new survey.

Alcohol Concern surveyed 259 social workers and students from August to October this year to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Week this week.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said care proceedings occurred later and took longer in alcohol-affected families compared with drug-affected families, meaning children were put at risk for longer. Almost one-third said they did not feel they had had sufficient training while 70% had had one day or less training in dealing with alcohol issues.

Social workers also agreed that the social acceptability of alcohol meant that problems often remained hidden in families despite the fact it usually went in tandem with issues of domestic abuse.

Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker said if social workers felt the problem was on the increase it should “send warning bells” to the government to take alcohol misuse in families more seriously.

“Bolstering the capacity of social workers to identify children at risk from parents’ drinking is essential,” he said.“This needs to go hand-in-hand with a wider understanding of passive drinking – how alcohol misuse can affect an individual’s loved ones as well as themselves.”

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