Christmas is a fraught time for many. Despite the glowing depictions of family bliss beaming from your television, the holiday is ripe for triggering any number of hard-weathered problems, from loneliness to debt, mental health issues to repressed family matters.
Of particular concern for many is alcohol. Alcohol is normalised at Christmas. Overindulging at the office Christmas party, drinking sherry as soon as the stockings are opened, keeping the party going until New Year. For most of us, the consequence of this focus on drinking is indulging a little more than normal, a couple of hangovers, a general feeling of unhealthiness and a desperate longing for Dry January to hurry up and start.
But for the children of alcoholics, Christmas is a treacherous time. With alcohol more prevalent, the triggers for their parents to drink are everywhere.
"Christmas is traditionally a time of the year when heavier drinking is more acceptable," explains Andrew Misell, the director of Alcohol Change UK in Wales. "Many of us will have more alcohol in the house, and this means that it’s easier for problematic drinking to pass largely unnoticed among the general merriment."
NACOA (The National Association for Children of Alcoholics) is a charity committed to providing a support line to children (grown-up or not) who deal with alcoholic parents. Christmas is a particularly busy time for them. Ahead, three of their ambassadors – all children of alcoholics – explain what Christmas is like for them, and how they try to cope.