I have covered a fair few party conferences and political shindigs in my time – most of them in France. I imagine in Britain, alcohol consumption is even more prevelent. Indeed Alastair Campbell talks in his memoirs of “everyone” being hungover after a Labour conference….. So it was perhaps not surprising that turnout was sub-optimal at the Demos event on alcohol abuse, at the end of the penultimate day of the Liberal Democrat conference. Even our MP host didn’t make it, despite being in the building…..
I have been working on the report, Parenting Under the Influence, since June. It follows on from previous Demos research that looked at the influence of parenting on children’s attitudes towards alcohol. In this second stage of research, we spoke to 50 families across the UK where the parents have problematic relationships with alcohol, to understand how this impacts their parenting style, and thus their children.
We are still writing the report, but we were able to talk about some of the findings and our initial conclusions, together with Patrice Muller of London Economics, who questions the effect of minimum alcohol pricing — being introduced in Scotland and mooted for England – on addicts.
The strongest message I have taken away from the interviews with 50 families we conducted across the country is how powerful a motivation facing up to their parental responsibilities can be. Most people want to be the best parents they can be, and may find it difficult to address the harm they are inflicting on their children. If helped to do so in a positive, non-judgemental way, it can give them reason and purpose to address their problem.
The shock of discovering his son was feeling like he had growing up was enough to make one of our interviewees stop drinking. “In family meetings [my son] said he felt lonely isolated, and that is exactly what I felt when I was a kid.” That night was the last time he had a drink, four years ago.
In other news, my novel, Twister Ladder, went on sale today. Not to the general public – that will have to wait! But my agents Dysel & Goderich have begun sending the manuscript to publishers.