Posted on 27 April 2018
The announcement that the government is going to give £6million to provide mental health support to the children of parents with alcohol problems is very, very welcome. The numbers involved are truly terrifying, it is estimated that 700,000 children in the United Kingdom are living with a parent who is dependent on alcohol. One in three child deaths are linked in some way to a parent’s misuse of alcohol. It is good to see that something, however small, is being done to address this litany of misery.
The government reports the measures will include:
At my hypnotherapy for anxiety clinic in Harley Street, I have seen many clients, who, as adults, are still suffering from the effects of growing up with an alcoholic parent and therefore I hope this investment is just a start. The early intervention it could provide would have been such a lifeline to some of the clients I see now and saved a whole lot of misery.
If you have grown up with an alcoholic parent, then it is likely you will be aware of the impact that adverse effects during childhood can have on your life. The emotional damage to a child due to the behaviour of an alcoholic parent can often be permanent and can scar the child’s adult relationships and seriously impact their sense of self-worth and self-esteem throughout their lives.
This can take many forms. For some people, they repeat the pattern and become alcohol dependent themselves, some find it hard to form stable adult relationships and some become desperate over-achievers.
The last one is very common. I hear many stories from clients about how they feel driven to be perfect, as if this will somehow protect them against the chaos they remember as their parent’s life spiralled out of control. Perhaps you recognise this in yourself: are you driven to constantly succeed in your career for example, but you know that, however great the outside success is, it never really satisfies you? This cycle can be exhausting - as if you are on a treadmill and unable to step off. I want to assure you that you can stop the pattern or cycle.
Many cases of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, can be linked to such childhood experiences. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (or GAD) is that feeling of being constantly worried, but not sure what you are worrying about. Unsurprisingly it is very common in people who have grown up with an alcoholic parent. Clients have told me that they grew up on high alert, constantly fearing the next drink-related disaster or dreading their parent’s mood swings as the bottle was emptied. This state of high alert has continued and become ingrained in their personalities, a way of being which they know is making them unhappy, but from which they feel they cannot escape.
For children the sense of isolation and shame can be awful and I hope this new government support will help to address this. Feeling shame can rob a child of their happiness at the time, and the damage which shame can do long-term is great. If you have grown up feeling ashamed of your parent and your family situation, you are likely to have developed a ‘wariness’ in life. You may constantly worry that you will be ‘found out’ somehow.
If any of this sounds like you, then I would urge you to seek help from somebody like myself. Let me assure you that these problems can be overcome, and we can see real changes and improvements in just a few hours of targeted therapy for anxiety. Support from a therapist who is highly experienced in working with these issues, who can work to reset your self-image to something you feel comfortable with, can bring you the sort of inner peace you deserve.
I use a variety of techniques, as well as cognitive hypnotherapy, to help clear the emotional blocks and deeply-buried beliefs which you have been carrying around for too long. You will find that very quickly you can start to feel freer and more optimistic, you may even contemplate doing things you never previously thought possible.
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