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TUBA: Easter is a difficult time for those growing up in homes with addiction. With the Conservative's proposal for a treatment guarantee, help could soon be on the way

Kåre Skarsholm TUBA
Kåre Skarsholm

01.04.2024 - Easter conjures images of eggs and shrimp, curry herring, and schnapps. But for the 109,000 children and youths currently growing up with parents struggling with alcohol problems, the holiday is associated with an increased level of conflict, worries, and stomachaches. However, help could soon be on the horizon. The Conservative People's Party has put forward a resolution proposal aimed at ensuring that children and youths growing up in homes with addiction can receive the help they need.

For 26-year-old Wicki, Easter reminds her of everything she did not have as a child and still lacks today: a united family gathering for a cozy Easter lunch. Instead, grief over the significant rifts that alcohol abuse has created in her family overshadows everything.

Growing up in a home marred by alcohol abuse meant that from an early age, Wicki struggled with poor self-esteem, depressive thoughts, and self-harm. But it was only as an adult that she realized the connection between her mother's alcohol abuse and her own internal struggles. When she finally reached out for help, she was placed at the back of the waiting list.

"Having to wait for therapy while I desperately needed it made me lose courage and faith that things would get better," Wicki shares, explaining how she felt an injustice during the wait, as her mother had a legally guaranteed right to be treated within 14 days if she wished, while Wicki herself had to wait months with her problems only growing.

A welcome news

But things may soon change for the thousands of young people in the same situation as Wicki. The Conservative People's Party has proposed a resolution to ensure a treatment guarantee for those under 25 years old struggling with the aftermath of growing up in homes with alcohol or drug abuse.

The organization TUBA, which for 27 years has provided free therapy to children and youths from families with alcohol or drug abuse, welcomes the proposal for a long-awaited treatment guarantee.

"Many children growing up with a parent with an addiction later struggle with anxiety, depression, and a higher risk of developing an addiction themselves. We tend to think we're solving the problem by helping the addict. But we forget the extensive consequences it has for the children – even far into adulthood. Therefore, it's really good news that there's finally a focus on providing the young people with the help they need," says Kåre Skarsholm, the national leader of TUBA.

A 10-year-old proposal resurfaces

This is not the first time a treatment guarantee for children of addicts has been on the political agenda. In 2014, an almost identical proposal was put forward, and with a unanimous Parliament, the government was tasked to present a bill on this matter. However, the proposal never became law, as both the current and previous governments have not followed Parliament's decision.

Nevertheless, TUBA hopes that this time will be different.

"It's about prevention, careful attention, and common sense. Demand for our services is historically high, and right now, waiting lists in the country's largest municipalities are 2-3 years long. This is unacceptable, and we cannot justify it to the large group of young people struggling with the aftermath of growing up in addiction. For me, it's obvious – and I hope it is for the politicians as well," says Kåre Skarsholm, stressing that the lack of help for these youths starkly contrasts with the readily available assistance for the addict parents, who have a legally guaranteed right to treatment within 14 days.

Wicki, who is currently furthering her education in social work, is also pleased that the proposal for a treatment guarantee is back on the political agenda. For her, therapeutic help was crucial.

"If I hadn't received help in TUBA, I wouldn't be where I am today. I'm not even sure I could have pursued an education because of stress and depression. You can't just bounce back from that alone. It requires help to get out," she concludes.

Find more about TUBA TUBA is an independent organization owned by Blue Cross Denmark.

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