One contact per hour to the NSPCC helpline is on the subject of substance abuse, the children’s charity has revealed.
The NSPCC revealed a shocking rise in the number of contacts made to the helpline from children concerned about substance misuse in the family.
There were 25,000 contacts to the helpline over the last three years about substance misuse and this number has increased by 16 per cent since 2013-14.
Last year alone, 8,500 people across the UK contacted the NSPCC about issues involving substance misuse which equates to one contact per hour on the issue.
The charity says that some contacts have been judged so serious that it has made more than 20,000 referrals to external agencies, including the police and children's services.
The figures were released to coincide with the start of Children of Alcoholics Week.
The NSPCC states that substance misuse is a significant risk for children and often leads to neglect and abuse. Excessive alcohol consumption or use of drugs inevitably make it difficult for parents to deal with family life and often puts pressure on relationships.
Children’s feelings, their relationship with their parents and how they’re looked after are all affected.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive said: “Drug and alcohol abuse can have hugely damaging affects around children and it’s clearly troubling to see a rise over time in reports of this problem to our helpline.
“Substance misuse all too often leads to the neglect or abuse of a child and it’s absolutely crucial that we do all we can to stop that. The NSPCC provides services directly to families suffering from these problems to help them overcome them and provide their children with a safe and secure upbringing.
“But everyone has a duty to look out for potential signs of distress and the NSPCC’s helpline is there to provide help and support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Wanless added.
The NSPCC provides services to both parents experiencing difficulties with substance misuse and children affected by it including FEDUP (Family Environment: Drug Using Parents), which provides a safe, confidential space for children to express their feelings, while working with parents in 1-2-1 sessions to help them understand the effects of substance abuse.
Parents Under Pressure aims to support parents who are on a drug or alcohol treatment programme.