There has been a huge increase in the number of reports about parental misuse of drink or drugs during the pandemic.

The children’s charity NSPCC says that in the West Midlands it has nearly doubled the number of cases it has referred on to agencies such as the police or s children’s services.

Overall in the UK the number of calls to the charity’s Helpline has risen 66% since April 2020.

The NSPCC then refer on any they think are serious enough to need further investigation.

In the West Midlands area the number of referrals they have made is up a whopping 72%.

Before the first lockdown last March the NSPCC in this region were referring about 84 calls a month.

That’s gone up to an average of 144 a month. In the last ten months they have made 1,444 referrals.

The information has been released to coincide with ‘Children of Alcoholics Week’ to raise awareness of the problem.

This includes adults who consume harmful amounts of alcohol, are dependent on alcohol, use prescription drugs excessively or are using illegal drugs, any of which impacts their ability to care for a child.

Living in a household where a parent or carer misuses substances does not necessarily mean a child will experience abuse, but it can make it more difficult for parents to provide safe and consistent care and this can lead to abuse or neglect. It can also have a serious impact on children’s emotional well-being.

The NSPCC say that due to the pandemic, “children are much more immersed in the problems they are facing at home.”

Some signs to look out for that show families might be struggling:

• parents may be visually under the influence of alcohol or drugs over video chat or in public

• a change in the parent’s behaviour as they may have difficulty controlling their emotions or act irrationally or unpredictably

• a child may become withdrawn or develop behavioural, emotional or mental problems

• aggressive or repeated shouting at home

• children may have taken on the responsibility of caring for their parents or siblings.

• children looking dirty or not changing their clothes

Adfam, a charity which provides support to families affected by drug, alcohol or gambling addiction, said: “ A staggering 88% of the families that we surveyed in our ‘Families in Lockdown’ survey told us that the first lockdown negatively impacted on their family member’s alcohol, drug or gambling problem. A third of families experienced an increase in verbal abuse from their family member and 13% feel more concerned than usual for their safety.”

For support, ring the NSPCC Helpline 0808 800 5000 or visit to find your nearest online support group.