Reducing harm caused by alcohol


New toolkit to help children affected by family alcohol problems

The Children Harmed by Alcohol Toolkit (C.H.A.T.) has been developed by Alcohol Focus Scotland to help the estimated 51,000 children across Scotland whose parents are harmful drinkers.

C.H.A.T. can be used in social work, family support and specialist alcohol services to support children aged 3-16 years who have been referred because of a parent or carer’s drinking. The toolkit includes stories, worksheets, puppets and games using different characters’ experiences to start conversations with children and families about the issues affecting their lives.

Harmful parental drinking can have a serious impact on all aspects of children’s lives, affecting their health and wellbeing, relationships and school life. Children in this situation can feel anxious, lonely, stressed, angry and confused. In some cases, basic needs may not be met and children can suffer neglect and abuse.

Talking to a trusted adult who listens without judging helps children realise they’re not alone and that they shouldn’t feel guilty about their parent’s drinking. Children are supported to find ways to cope and be happy despite their challenging home life.  

C.H.A.T. can also be used with parents and other family members to demonstrate how alcohol is affecting family life. The toolkit is already being used in voluntary and public sector agencies across Scotland and has been piloted and independently evaluated in community justice settings, funded by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Graham Wordie from Drug Alcohol and Psychotherapies Ltd (DAPL) in Fife said:

“This is a really useful resource which we have been using to help children referred to our service because of their mum or dad’s drinking. I feel that the toolkit enables children and young people to voice their concerns in a safe and non-judgemental way. They use the toolkit to understand their own feelings, which builds up trust and empowers them not to be afraid to ask the questions they need to."

Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“Harmful drinking can have a terrible impact on children and their families. Sadly, many children suffer in silence but the creative and practical resources we have developed can help support workers and counsellors make a real difference to children’s lives. We hope that C.H.A.T. will be used in even more services across Scotland and reach the families who need support the most.”