CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS WEEK 2013
Sunday, February 10 - Saturday, February 16
MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF COAS AND HONORING RECOVERY –AN ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF HOPE AND HEALING
During Children of Alcoholics Week you and your organization can be a part of a grassroots nationwide and international celebration spreading the word that children living with addiction in the family need the support of caring adults. During this week we join our voices and connect our activities to raise awareness that children of addiction can be encouraged and supported just knowing there are safe people who can help. By raising our voices together we can encourage able, caring adults to be there for children who suffer when a parent abuses alcohol and other drugs.
We can also reach the children with important information. Children living with addiction in their family need to know that it is not their fault that a parent is alcoholic or drug addicted. They need to hear the message, “It’s a disease; it is not your fault, and there are safe people who can help.”
During this special week, choose to speak out, to reach out, to get the word out that all too often, it’s the children who are hurt the most when parents are addicted. The right message from caring adults or being included in an educational support group can make a world of difference for them. Join thousands of NACoA affiliates and friends during this important annual celebration.
Your own experience in your community and organization will inform you how you can have the greatest impact but we want to suggest some of the many ways your organization and you, as a private citizen, can make a difference during Children of Alcoholics Week 2013:
- Speak out as an organization and as an individual. Advocate for the children and families affected by alcoholism and other drug dependencies. An estimated 25 percent of all children in the U.S. (about 27.8 million) are affected by or exposed to a family alcohol problem. This does not include those affected by or exposed to other drug problems. All these children are at increased risk for a range of problems, including physical illness, emotional disturbances, behavior problems, lower educational performance, and susceptibility to alcoholism or other addiction later in life. Their needs often go unaddressed for a variety of reasons – some emotional, some financial, and all very persistent. It doesn’t have to be that way! In addition to churches, schools, and other community venues, think of online opportunities, including online social networking sites, to advocate for these vulnerable children. For more ideas and resources, see SAMHSA’s booklet “Children of Alcoholics: A Guide to Community Action.”
- Ask Churches and Other Faith-Based Organizations to join in Children of Alcoholics Week. Something as simple as recognition in the bulletin and newsletter would be a start. Clergy may want to address addiction as it impacts family or how it can be a barrier to spiritual growth. Suggest that they make available to young congregants the pamphlet It Feels So Bad and to adult members Alcohol and Drug Addiction Happens in the Best of Families…and it Hurts. Ask that Children of Alcoholics Week be announced in the bulletin and that the COA Week poster be on display from Sunday February 10 through Saturday, February 16. A second poster, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Hurts Everyone in the Family…It doesn’t have to be that way,could be posted for long-term display. You also may want to suggest that “Core Competencies for Clergy and Other Pastoral Ministers In Addressing Alcohol and Drug Dependence and Its Impact on Family Members.” is available upon request and online. Another idea: Send the free handbook for clergy, Preventing and Addressing Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Handbook for Clergy,to your own clergy as your gift to them to use all year round. NCADD affiliates and Community Coalitions can join NACoA affiliates to deliver the handbook to area clergy. Call NACoA (1-888-554-2627) about obtaining an adequate quantity of the handbooks and for suggestions.
- Stimulate a Proclamation. Join with other groups in your town or state to persuade the mayor or governor or state legislators to make an official proclamation of Children of Alcoholics Week 2013. Announce the event with as much fanfare as possible, including a kick-off press conference and as much TV or radio coverage as you can attract. Work with the public affairs office that serves the official who will be signing the proclamation. (See attached Sample Proclamation.) Arrange a radio interview for a local authority or call NACoA (1-888-554-2627) to help get a national authority.
- Engage health care professional associations and managed care organizations. Contact your community’s health care professional associations (hospital association, medical and dental society, nurses’ association) and managed care organizations. Show them the Children of Alcoholics Week poster and related pamphlets and ask that they be featured in display racks, on their web sites, and in their publications. It is a good way to be sure they know who you are and strengthen your networking potential while raising awareness about health risks (mental and physical) to COAs. Order supplies of pamphlets and posters early.
- Help health care providers focus on the needs of COAs and their families. Give your community hospitals, health clinics, and physicians and other local health care providers copies of the Children of Alcoholics Week posters and brochures for display in waiting rooms and professional lounges for patients and clients. They may find that these materials help their own understanding and conversations with children and parents around alcoholism and addiction and how these conditions significantly impact health and the cost of health care.
- Distribute Prepared Materials. Celebrate Children of Alcoholics Week 2013 with a simple information distribution campaign. Using material already developed, call and visit the offices of organizations whose work is like yours or otherwise well-suited to the messages of Children of Alcoholics Week. Ask them to display the Children of Alcoholics Week 2013 poster and other materials in their public areas. Would they be willing to include a COA public service announcement in their publications? Whenever and whoever you visit in support of Children of Alcoholics Week, encourage them – especially if they are public officials - to take a poster and display pamphlets to raise health promotion messages in connection with children of alcoholics and other drug dependent parents.
- Visit Elected Officials. Make Children of Alcoholics Week 2013 an opportunity to tell the story of your own organization’s work, to urge support for an official Children of Alcoholics Week Proclamation, and to emphasize your ongoing concerns for the needs of COAs. (Also see next item.)
- Sell the Money-Saving Aspects of Prevention to City/County Managers. Use basic statistics about addiction and its impact on families to dramatize the potential costs to local governments. Let the numbers convince them that it is money-saving, as well as compassionate, to speak up for and promote prevention programs such as youth mentoring; student assistance programs in schools; or to support programs in health clinics. Savings will come in reductions in health care, human services, and criminal justice costs avoided through investment in prevention. (See Children of Addicted Parents: Important Facts for State and Local Government Agencies.For more on this see “COAs and Economic Costs” by Dr. Alison Snow-Jones.
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