The importance of community support for children of addicts
90% of Swedish municipalities offer support services for children from addicted families. Eleven years in a row now, the Stockholm-based IOGT NTO Junior Association, Junis, has conducted this type of research on the amount and type of support the municipalities in Sweden are offering to the children of addicts.
Blurred childhood memories are often the side effect of addiction in the family. In the face of a family problem of such scope, children are powerless to change their realities by themselves. This is why it is important to have good support structures and services in the local community.
“Addiction is not a spectator sport. Eventually, the whole family gets to play” – Anonym
Ever since 2004, Junis has been sending a questionnaire to all 290 municipalities in Sweden. The questionnaire asks about all kinds of support activities the municipalities are offering to children of addicts. It also opens an opportunity to specify the type of support offered in each municipality. Further on, the municipalities are asked about the number of children involved in the activities, in whose regime the operations are conducted, how they find the children who need support, and how information about the activities is spread. Ultimately, the questionnaire asks the municipalities which measures they consider to be the most important in developing the support for children in families with addiction problems.
The rationale behind this extensive work lies in the need to further examine the negative effects on children by the increased consumption of alcohol in society, especially among parents.
This is why Junis requires all municipalities to offer support activities in such a way that it actually reaches the target group. In order to influence this issue, one must know what the situation is right now. Support groups and other targeted support activities can give the children opportunities to feel that they are not alone in their situation and to process their feelings and experiences.
Evaluation of support
90% of Swedish municipalities offer support services – but is it enough?
The 2015 report of the survey reveals 213 of the 290 municipalities responded to the survey this year. Among other things, the report shows that:
• 90 percent of the municipalities that responded (191 out of 213) said that they refer to some kind of support activities.
• 10 percent of the municipalities that responded (22 of 213) reported that they refer to no support activities at all for these children.
• 5 percent of municipalities have answered that they offer support activities but that no children have participated.
• The most common form of support offered is support groups.
• Increased collaboration between the municipal authorities are considered the most important action to develop the support.
Junis believes that all children of addicts are entitled to receive support. The support will help them develop into strong, healthy individuals who can do their best to have a positive future – says Mona Örjes, President of Junis.
Author: Vasilka Lalevska