Mon. Jul 4th, 2022

Support plan for children of addicts

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A PIONEERING initiative to support children as young as seven with drug-addict or alcoholic parents is due to be launched in Jersey in the new year.

And the head of Silkworth Lodge Charity Group which is behind the project has warned that Jersey’s high problem-drinking rate and level of drug use could mean there are hundreds of children exposed to addiction everyday that need support.

Jason Wyse, chief executive of the charity, which supports drug addicts and alcoholics as well as their families, said he hoped to launch the free Silkworth Children’s Programme early next year.

The idea will be to use role-play and games to help children aged from seven to 12 to understand addiction and feel comfortable talking about what they may have witnessed at home.

Children could be referred to the scheme via agencies such as Children’s Services, the NSPCC or The Bridge Child and Family Centre.

Mr Wyse said: ‘Sometimes we cannot see the damage that is done to a child by a family member’s drinking or drug taking and if we do see it, it is not always straight away but it can affect a young person in their later life.

‘Some children might begin to see addiction as the norm or even, on the other hand, become fearful of alcohol – it can be a two-pronged thing.

‘At the moment there is nothing being done for children in the Island of this nature and it is needed. We have a really high drinking level in Jersey and a really high level of drug use.

‘Not everyone knows it but it is serious problem in Jersey.’

According to the 2015 Jersey Alcohol Profile, the Island has one of the highest levels of per capita alcohol consumption in Europe. One in five of all crimes recorded in 2013 and 2014 were alcohol-related while there were almost 500 reports of domestic violence linked to alcohol between 2012 and 2015.

Mr Wyse added that he regularly visits secondary schools to talk about addiction with pupils and can spot children in the audience who ‘close up’ or ‘turn rigid’ when the subject is addressed.

‘I can see who has been exposed to alcohol or drugs,’ he said. ‘The idea is to talk to these children when they are very young – seven, eight, nine years old and help them understand what might have been happening at home. We need to make them feel it is okay to talk and they are not on their own.’

He added that it was often the case that addicts who had been helped by Silkworth had parents or grandparents with addiction issues.

‘If we can stop children going down the road of addiction by catching them early then it is a win win,’ he said.

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