Currently, parental problem-drinking is thought to be affecting around 200,000 children in Ireland, according to a new study from University College Cork (UCC).

The study was conducted together with Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and, based on its findings, it’s believed more young people may be facing adverse experiences in the home due to parental alcohol dependency during the recent and current lockdowns.

The researchers also concluded that since the outbreak of the virus earlier in the year, many drinkers have likely substituted their drinking at licensed premises, for drinking in the home.

The study also looked at the effects of parental problem-drinking on children in the school environment, as well as the life-long implications on their physical and mental health.

As a result, both University College Cork and Alcohol Action Ireland are recommending that schools and teachers are given guidance on how to identify children who have been exposed to so-called ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) so that proper support measures can be implemented to help such children.

One of the researchers, Dr Sharon Lambert from University College Cork said that no such ‘trauma-aware’ approaches or frameworks were in existence to support schools in Ireland, although they had already been developed in schools in other countries.

Alcohol Action Ireland’s CEO, Dr Sheila Gilheany added that schools are the places that could provide the necessary support, friendships and other opportunities that children require to protect themselves against some of the harmful impacts of ACEs, like parental alcohol dependence.

Mrs Gilheany said, ‘now more than ever, children and young people need their schools not just to be a place of learning, but to be a place of refuge and support for other issues in their lives’.

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