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The Peaches Effect
We are the forgotten ones…. we are the children of addicts. Read this and remember us.
Addiction….it’s a dirty word. Close your eyes to it and you will miss them, the million or more children in the U.K living with the effects of some sort of parental addiction may it be alcohol, drugs, gambling or eating disorders.
I was dumbfounded when I overhead peoples reaction to Peaches Geldof’s premature death in April 2014. Yes, they talked of her beauty and free spirited ways but also of her selfishness and predictable downfall because she was “just like her mum”. It was almost like her death was already recorded in time. So then I wondered, what may I ask is the prognosis for her sons?
It was then I began to think that the general view of addicts from the public was unfair, but this was due to them being unfamiliar with such a gloomy issue. Children of Addicts therefore become invisible as the “spotlight” goes to the addict and they in turn live with this hefty burden which is unnecessary and avoidable if they receive the help and support they need. It was around this time I joined COAP (Children of Addicted Parents) and NACOA (National Association of Children of Alcoholic’s). They specifically exist to help the children not the addicts. I wanted to help these unseen children.
So, who are these forgotten ones? They are sons and daughters of doctors, teachers, and solicitors, politicians, shop workers, van drivers. That’s right, it’s not only the unemployed who are addicts. They are living in your street, they may be next door. They might even be your niece or nephew. Therein lies the problem, for all the registered addicts with children under the supervision of authority’s there is an addict who hides their dependence and their children are suffering. These children are unknown, they slip through the net and that’s how they want it.
Let’s consider “Ana” for a moment. She is twelve years old and her Mum is an alcoholic. She can’t concentrate on her school work because she is tired and her mind is focused on what will await her when she gets home. It’s a guessing game some children play every day…best case scenario is her Mum had a good day and didn’t drink much, her dinner is on the table and she can tell her all about her day but this probably won’t be the case. She is most likely asleep or passed out on the sofa, wet and reeking of urine. Ana will check she is breathing, grab some food if there is any, and go to her room. Later her Mum will wake up irritated and charge into her room asking why Ana didn’t wake her and then accuse her of not caring. Maybe Ana will challenge her again about her drinking and ask her to stop or maybe she will stay silent because she gave up trying to get her Mum help a long time ago. She will spend the rest of her night worrying in case her Mum goes out to get more alcohol and have a fall on the way back, this would be the worst thing that could happen. Someone might bring her home and see the state of the house or the holes in her clothing and ask questions. Ana doesn’t want to be under social services, they might take her away from her Mum and she loves her too much.
Think about “Joseph”. He lives with his Mum, Dad and two brothers. He is nine years old. His Dad is a drug addict. He listens to his Mothers and his brothers cries every night. His Father has ran out of money again and is angry that his Mother doesn’t have any more to give him so he has hit her. He is scared of his Father and tries not to speak to him. Sometimes though everything is good and he loves him.
Isn’t it a disturbing fact that these children without help and guidance will become part of the Peaches Effect? They will follow in the dishonorable footsteps of their parents; they will develop anger issues, anxiety problems and could likely become addicted to any number of substances. All this to take away the existence they led as a child growing up with a parental addiction. It’s not their addiction but it becomes their problem. It’s unfair. It’s wrong. It’s happening every day.
Let’s fast forward a few years……Ana is a work colleague. She doesn’t participate in any social events because she is shy. You tend not to talk to her as she lost her temper with you last year over a trivial matter. Actually you tend to avoid her as you think she looks sad all the time. You hear something in the staff room months later about Ana being fired because she turned up late one day with a distinct smell of alcohol on her breath. Another member of staff recalls her from school, “ I might have known” she says, Ana lived down the road from her…….. “just like her Mum”.