UK

The children who grew up with addict parents

Sarah, Josh and Jade appearing on the Victoria Derbyshire programme
Image caption Sarah, Josh and Jade all grew up with a parent who had an addiction

Accepting a Bafta award for leading actor, Manchester by the Sea star Casey Affleck revealed to the audience he had grown up with an alcoholic parent.

The personal tale came a week after Labour MP Jon Ashworth spoke in parliament about his experience of having an alcoholic father.

The NSPCC says it receives a call every hour from an adult concerned about drug or alcohol use around children, and it believes up to a million young people could be living with an alcoholic or drug dependent parent.

So how does it feel to grow up with an addicted parent? And what impact does it have beyond childhood?

Three people shared their stories with the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme.

"I tend to only remember the bad things"

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Media captionJosh Connolly speaks about a typical day in the life of his alcoholic father

Josh Connolly was nine when his father, an alcoholic, died.

Now 29, he says the experience left him full of anger, which he would often direct at other people, feeling shame at his father's behaviour but guilt for not standing by him.

"I tend to only remember a lot of the bad things and also the feelings," he said.

"That is what stayed with me through my life and is still tangible today; the way that my dad's drinking and everything that comes with that made me feel."

Josh's experience led him to develop his own problems with drinking during his teenage years.

"I desperately wanted more than anything else in my life not to be an alcoholic, but when I was 12 or 13 and found alcohol, it just became the perfect escape route for me.

"I was never really able to look after my dad. At school I acted the clown, at home I am trying to be the best possible me that I could be, so alcohol gave me an escape from that."

'My dad was always my hero'

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Media captionJade Bailey speaks of her heartbreak at how she was treated by her heroin addict father.

Jade Bailey's father was a heroin addict who took drugs around her from as far back as she could remember.

He began with cannabis and ecstasy, taking it with friends and telling his daughter it was "medicine."

But as she got older, he moved onto harder drugs.

"I knew it was never right and never their medicine," said the 25-year-old.

"I remember them going into the bathroom, I can even picture it now, and doing it, coming out and all being off their faces.

"When he went on to heroin, I was about ten years old and he was a mess. Our fun time on the weekend was going to the skip and trying to find toys.

"At that age, I thought it was amazing as my dad was always my hero."

When Jade told her mother what had been happening when she went to visit, she stopped her from going and only let Jade contact her father by phone.

"I have never had that answer from him of why wasn't I enough to make [him] stop," she said. "Why do you not love me enough to stop and be my dad?

"He knew how much I adored him and I knew he adored me, I knew I was the only thing he cared about, apart from the drug.

"It makes you feel very alone and abandoned by them, but you love them so much you can't ever leave them, no matter what they do."

'I wished I could have the old dad back'

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Media captionSarah says she used to wait up all night for her alcoholic father to come home from the pub.

Sarah was brought up by her father, who is an alcoholic.

She said the drinking changed her relationship with him so much she had to walk away.

"In my early years, it was happy," she said. "It made it harder when he turned to alcohol because I couldn't understand and it made it harder to walk away.

"I missed the old dad he was and always wished I could have the old dad back."

Sarah never told anyone about his problem so had to deal with it alone.

She thinks the experience made her "stronger, braver and more resilient to life's challenges", but it affected her attitude towards alcohol.

"I always feel anxious when I am around drunk people," she said.

"It reminds me of the time I was looking after my dad, the feelings I got from that and the embarrassment, shame and sadness."

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