Primary Care Physicians see children suffering from the physical and emotional results of alcoholism and other substance use disorders in the family. Clergy are often the first to be contacted by a spouse who needs help for themselves and their children. The Court System sees the ravages of parental addiction to alcohol and other drugs in their courtroom every day. Educators may notice that a child is withdrawn or unable to do school work because of the chaos at home caused by alcoholism. Social workers touch every system that seeks to help children cope with a variety of family problems, many of which are rooted in parental addiction for many generations. Early Childhood Professionals see children from birth through age three, the youngest and most vulnerable population to be affected by parental addiction.
While NACoA provides increasing amounts of information to help children and families, especially with the broad reach of internet communications, it is not feasible to provide needed direct services to children and families across the country and around the world. Therefore, NACoA’s approach to addressing family alcohol or other drug addiction as effectively as possible is to work with a network of relationships with professional groups who serve kids on the front lines.
The relationship begins with leaders in targeted professional groups and proceeds to a partnership that assists each group in determining what education and what tools are needed to adjust the group's everyday actions so that children’s needs may be identified and addressed. Staff members, teachers, caseworkers, pastoral counselors and physicians are then educated about the needs and trained to make a difference in the lives of the children in their care on a daily basis.
Working in compassionate professions that touch the lives of traumatized children and teenagers regularly can emotionally exhaust and at times physically impact the best of professionals. Depending upon the level of daily involvement, these responsibilities have the capacity to even elicit PTSD like symptoms, especially if you grew up in a family that struggled with substance disorders that created trauma in your earlier life. It is important for anyone working in these professions to exercise appropriate self care, and if necessary consider attending Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings.
NACoA provides a wealth of information for those professionals who see children every day : profession specific research, kits, books, online educational opportunities, trainings and videos to educate and support those who are in the best position to identify and assist children who live with alcohol or other addictions in the family. In addition, onsite training can be arranged through NACoA.
Whether you are a pediatrician, drug court manager, school psychologist or faith community leader, we’re here to help with resources that are readily available to provide to families. Learn more about COAs. Visit the Families Overview and other Families sections to discover a variety of popular resources available for families. Find Articles or Books -with more recommendations visit Just 4Kids - to share as appropriate. Encourage families to sign up for our eNewsletter or LIKE our Facebook page for regular news and inspirations. In addition to the following resources, customized on-site training is also available, so contact the office if you are interested in more information.
Shulamith Lala Ashenberg Straussner PhD CAS and Christine Huff Fewell PhD LCSW CASA
Featuring experts on children of substance abusers and strategies for providing prevention, intervention and therapy, it is a "must read" for mental health professionals and students who need to understand and treat this population.
HELP IS THE DOWN THE HALL: A Handbook on Student Assistance
CHILDREN’S PROGRAM KITS
This NACoA-developed and popular kit of curriculum materials, DVDs, posters and other program support materials can be ordered today. The Kit provides all the tools needed to implement educational support groups for children of clients in treatment for addiction, for educational support groups and other educational prevention activities in schools, and for support groups and educational programs in youth-serving community based and faith-based organizations. The Kit covers curriculum activities for young people ages 5 – 18 (Grades K-12), and includes multiple activities under six topic areas. For information about the Kits, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
COA Selected Readings
This is a collection of readings centered around four areas of concentration, which create the mainstays of understanding Children of Alcoholics:
The Young Child
The Adult Child
The authors of the readings represent the most distinguished experts within their respective areas of concentration. As NACoA continues to build a knowledge base, these readings represent the framework upon which future knowledge, skills and best practices can be built.
Kit for Early Childhood Professionals
What should I do if I smell alcohol on the breath of a parent of one of the young children in our program? How do I go about getting the right kind of help for the little one? These questions and many others are answered in the “Kit for Early Childhood Professionals.” The “Kit” provides a knowledge base concerning families with an alcoholic or other drug abuser, as well as practical guidelines for how to help a child and guidelines for what should NOT be done in an attempt to assist a young child. The Early Childhood Professional can provide all-important support to a young child living in a home where alcohol or other drugs dominate the functioning of the family. It is recommended that all staff in the early childhood program receive the information contained in the “Kit for Early Childhood Professionals” at a staff meeting or in-service training.
What should I do if I smell alcohol on the breath of a parent of one of the young children in our program? How do I go about getting the right kind of help for the little one? These questions and many others are answered in the “Kit for Early Childhood Professionals.” The “Kit” provides a knowledge base concerning families with an alcoholic or other drug abuser, as well as practical guidelines for how to help a child and guidelines for what should NOT be done in an attempt to assist a young child.
Read More »
UNDERSTANDING THE DIVERSE NEEDS OF CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS ABUSE SUBSTANCES
Solis JM, Shadur JM, Burns AR, Hussong AM
PRINCIPLES OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD: A RESEARCH-BASED GUIDE
National Institute of Drug Abuse
This guide addresses the major influences on a child’s early development such as lack of school readiness skills, insecure attachment issues, and signs of uncontrolled aggression in childhood behaviors. Special attention is given to a child’s most vulnerable periods during sensitive transitions, such as a parents’ divorce, moving to a new home, or starting school. There is strong evidence that a stable home environment, adequate nutrition, physical and cognitive stimulation, and supportive parenting can lead to good developmental outcomes. Two supplemental sections for policymakers and practitioners go into greater detail on how early childhood interventions are designed and how to select the right strategies for a community’s specific needs. “This guide is important reading for anyone who has an influence over a child’s life, from early development through the transition to elementary school,” added Volkow.
To support community collaborations coming together to address community addiction issues - and address the intergenerational trauma concerns that perpetuates the addiction cycle from one generation to the next - learn more about NACoA’s whole-family, evidence-based program Celebrating Families!TM (CF!)
With ¡Celebrando Familias!, for Hispanic families, and the Wellbriety/Celebrating Families! partnership,for Native American families, the CF! program introduces and practices healthy family skills with cultural sensitivities, increases re-unification for families in the child welfare program, and increases protective factors and decreases risk factors. With the 0 Thru 3 Years Supplement, CF! provides critical intervention during the formative years to reintroduce attachment skills and healthy family practices so that family recovery and positively impact the trajectory of the family. Whether a single agency, treatment center or church, or a community partnership coming together to provide the program, NACoA is available to help throughout the planning and implementation process to help foster a strong program for your community.
Thank you for what you do each day to improve the lives of children in your chosen profession.