Frequently Asked Questions

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Why should I support NACoA?

NACoA programs and materials are based on solid science and are effective. They provide the needed tools and education to those who are in contact with children on a daily basis — teachers, physicians, social workers, faith communities, court personnel. They also provide information and supportive material directly to children and families who are struggling with the impact of addiction. As a result, they reduce the number of children whose lives are disrupted by a family member’s alcohol or drug use, and they promote resilience in the children who are impacted.
NACoA’s extensive experience and its authoritative advisors guide the ongoing quality and effectiveness of its programs.

NACoA-developed programs and materials bring great relief to children when they come to understand their parent’s illness and that the problems in the family are not their fault.

The programs free them to develop more normally and devote their attention to being children instead of maintaining a focus on coping with the chronic stress in the family.

Children who attend these programs are known to improve their school attendance and school performance and experience an improvement in the quality of their lives.

This problem touches just about everyone in one way or another. In your neighborhood or among your children’s friends, one in four may be hiding their embarrassment, confusion, hurt or shame about what’s going on at home.

Why NACoA?


  • One in four children in the US is exposed to alcohol or drug dependence in their family, frequently creating enormous obstacles to normal development, health and safety.
  • Every second of every hour of every day, two children are born into families with an alcohol or drug problem.
  • NACoA is a voice for these children and advocates for them by influencing public policy and the systems that serve children; to recognize the issues involved and intervene appropriately.
  • NACoA provides effective programs and training, putting tools in the hands of tens of thousands of health care, school, judicial, social services and faith organization professionals who come into contact with these children, so that they are prepared to provide needed information and support.

Learn more about WHY NACOA?

Why does NACoA claim that NACoA is a “Voice for the Children?”

NACoA has a central and sole focus on the children of addicted parents, unlike other groups that promote children’s health and well-being in other ways.

These children are voiceless due to the shame, isolation, confusion and family dysfunction that accompany family addiction.

What Services does NACoA provide?

NACoA offers the following services:

  • Training, support, program tools, program development and technical assistance to schools, treatment centers, affiliates and other agencies that present supportive education and related services to impacted children and families.
  • Consultation for leveraging the influence of leaders in the fields of Health Care, Education, Social Work, the Justice System, Faith Communities and Early Childhood while assisting in identifying core competencies for each field and initiating NACoA trainings and programs and assisting in institutionalizing the issues and programs that will bring about needed systemic change for long term service to COAs.
  • Programs that raise public awareness of the prevalence and significance of the effects of parental alcohol or drug dependence and the effective strategies and programs that will mediate the negative impacts.
  • Advancement of professional knowledge in order to bring the most effective strategies for change to NACoA’s programs and organization.
  • Leadership in Public Policy in order to bring about systemic change on behalf of the 13 million children whose families are affected by alcohol or drug dependence.

What programs does NACoA support? What are donations used for?

  • Donations to NACoA are used to support a wide range of educational programs and training tools including The Children’s Program Kit, Celebrating Families!™, Help Is Down the Hall, The Seminary Curriculum, just to name a few.
    These programs and training tools have been carefully tested over the years and are updated periodically with the latest scientific and clinical information.
  • Onsite training programs
  • Online training and webinar programs

What organizations does NACoA work with to achieve its aims?

NACoA works with many national “colleague” groups, and periodically participates on a broad range of expert panels that deal with issues of importance to NACoA, such as:  FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), school-based prevention programs, clergy education programs, prevention core competencies panels, advisory groups and the Addiction Leadership Group.  NACoA participates in various commissions under the Department of Health and Human Services – always with a focus on the inclusion of support for children and families impacted by alcoholism and/or other drug dependencies. Visit Colleague Organizations for some of the groups with whom NACoA collaborates from time to time on issues and projects of mutual interest.

Although NACoA has a unique mission as the voice for children affected by addiction, it shares common cause with these groups that work to increase support for research, services, and policies that address this major cause of pain, suffering, and economic consequences. These organizations represent scientific, professional, educational, and advocacy groups. Together we work to present a unified perspective, based on scientific evidence, to advance public understanding and effective policy development, and to support research, prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts across the nation.

What is the cost of alcohol problems?

The human costs to children and families often include serious physical and emotional difficulties in the short term and long-term risk for a host of medical and mental conditions in adulthood.

Child abuse and neglect frequently accompany family alcohol or drug problems.

The financial cost of excessive drinking exceeded $223 billion in 2006, the most recent study. That comes to about $1.90 for each drink.

What if I know a child who is living in a home with alcohol or other drug problems?

  • Be a consistent support and listening ear to the child
    Research supports that it only takes one caring and understanding adult to
    make a difference in the life of a child. Learn more about how you can help
  • Take an interest in the child and spend quality time with him or her, if even just short conversations when checking the mail, setting tables for an event at church, or getting ready for a swim meet.
  • If appropriate, be an advocate for the child by helping the parent(s) get the help they need. Learn more about what Friends & Families can do to help.

What about Adult Children of Alcoholics?

Although Adult COAs do not represent the primary focus, NACoA is an ongoing source of information and support to ACOAs via the Newsletter, the website and social media. From its inception in 1983, NACoA has represented children of alcoholics “of all ages.” For more about ACOAs, click here.
Adult COAs can pave the way for a better life for the next generation of children of alcoholic parents by volunteering in a variety of significant activities. Click here to visit our Volunteer page to learn more and to sign up.

Isn’t the long-term solution to the problem of children being harmed by their parents’ drinking and drug dependence to provide more treatment for adults?

95 percent of those who meet the criteria for substance dependence (more than 20 million people) do NOT receive treatment, the major reason being they were not ready to stop using.
Even when parents do receive treatment they are usually unable to resolve the problems in the family for some time after treatment is completed. Recovery is a lifelong process that begins with getting sober.

If I make a donation to NACoA, how can I be assured that the money will be used responsibly?

Renowned American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead commented about NACoA: “Never have so few done so much for so many with so little.” Administrative costs represent only 9% of the annual budget.
NACoA is a registered 501(c)(3); Board of Directors ensures the integrity of the organization, the careful stewardship of its funds, and ensure the quality of the programs and products and their focus on the Mission.
Note: All donations made directly to the organization are tax-deductible. All donors, online and offline, receive a formal letter of acknowledgment and an official tax receipt.


The Independent Charities Seal of Excellence is awarded to the members of Independent Charities of America and Local Independent Charities of America that have, upon rigorous independent review, been able to certify, document, and demonstrate on an annual basis that they meet the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. These standards include those required by the US Government for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign, probably the most exclusive fund drive in the world. Of the 1,000,000 charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000, or 5 percent, meet or exceed these standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000 have been awarded.


How can I get involved with NACoA?


  • Sign up to receive our E-Newsletter
  • Communicate on Social Media
  • Follow major events and updates on our Facebook page
  • Participate in our Twitter chats around key COA themes and topic issues
  • Find inspiration and hope through our Pinterest posts
  • Share your voice on behalf of the children still living in silence with the pain of family alcohol or drug dependence


As a small nonprofit, NACoA is very grateful for the generous contribution of a person’s time. Whether volunteering, raising awareness, or fundraising, a person’s individual efforts help NACoA support children, one community at a time.


Most of NACOA’s best work came to fruition because of volunteers. Psychologists, social workers, clergy, physicians, educators and many others have contributed substantially to every major program and product developed by NACoA over the years.

SIGN UP today to VOLUNTEER—We would love to match your interests and skills with special projects we need help with!
We’re looking for volunteers that are interested in coordinating events across the country, lending their research skills to assist in updating our Information on Drugs and Alcohol Database, writing and editing, or getting more involved in our advocacy efforts.


In an effort to raise awareness and strengthen program funding, we encourage our supporters to host an event in their homes or somewhere in their community—it can be something as simple as inviting a small group for lunch, or starting a discussion group to talk about the ways to bring resources to the children. Please contact us if you are interested in hosting an event benefiting NACoA, and we will provide you with the necessary guidance and information brochures.


As a team, or individual, create your own campaign page and ask friends and family to donate. Don’t be afraid to be creative or flat out whacky. The sky is your limit in terms of what you can do to fundraise and raise awareness of the needs of children of alcoholics. You can run a race, conquer a fear like skydiving, kiss a whale, or simply take advantage of a special occasion—such as a birthday, graduation, wedding, or holiday to ask for donations instead of gifts. Most common among our supporters are campaigns organized in honor or memory of another individual, and you can do any one of the strategies above, while also paying tribute to someone special.

Children of Addicted Parents

Alcoholism and other drug addiction have genetic and environmental causes. Both have serious consequences for children who live in homes where parents are involved.

If your question isn't answered here, and not addressed elsewhere on this website, contact NACoA