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Press Release

CONTACT: Jennifer de Vallance 202–395–6618
October 17, 2001

New Government Initiative Launched for
Children of Substance Abusers

(Washington, D.C.)—The Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign today launched a multi-agency effort to provide resources and support to children with substance-abusing parents and help to adults in need. The initiative will address needs of children nationwide who live in families where one or both parents are abusing drugs or alcohol and was developed in partnership with the Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA), and the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA).

Posters, brochures, and online materials are part of a targeted outreach effort designed to assure children of substance abusers that they are not alone, while guiding them to seek help and support. "This effort will give children of substance abusers hope and help in what are often desperate circumstances," said Edward H. Jurith, Acting Director of ONDCP. "We hope this campaign empowers young people to seek out other trusted adults at their schools, places of worship, and in their communities for emotional and academic support."

The campaign's materials include two posters that encourage children to talk to supportive adults and a brochure, "It's Not Your Fault," created by NACoA. A brochure developed by SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), "You Can Help," is available for adult caretakers working with young people exposed to substance-dependent parents or guardians. New ONDCP print advertising will promote campaign resources and messages.

"Children of substance abusers are the highest risk group for future drug and alcohol dependence and are more likely to suffer a variety of ills such as depression and anxiety," said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Joseph H. Autry III M.D. "We must reach out to these young people to help bring stability and support to their lives. We can stop the vicious cycle of substance abuse with the help of caring adults who listen and serve as positive role models."

The initiative also raises awareness and provides specific tools to help adult influencers reach out to the children they care about. Adults are encouraged to address issues of addiction, without stigmatizing or alienating family members.

"Sadly, one in four children under the age of 18 lives in a family with a parent who drinks too much. Children living in these alcohol- or drug-dependent environments are regularly confronted with denial, shame and silence about their family experience," CSAT Director Westley Clark, M.D., J.D., MPH, said. "As advocates for young people, teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, and members of the faith community should become informed on issues related to drug and alcohol use, prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery."

For free resources including the posters and the "You Can Help" and It's Not Your Fault" brochures, call 1–800–788–2800 or e-mail. For additional information, visit (for kids) or (for adults).

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