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Author: One In Six Kids Affected By Addiction In Their Family

April 26, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The keynote speaker for this spring's conference of West Virginia social workers says we need to face the long-term damage addiction does to families. Author and addiction treatment specialist Claudia Black cites estimates that one in every six children in any classroom are affected by addiction in their families - primarily alcoholism. Black says it can make trust impossible and have effects that last for years.

"I don't think that you can live with the dynamic of addiction and not be psychologically impacted. What people often don't recognize is simply how traumatic it is to live in a chronic state of fear."

The good news, she says, is that we should not be afraid to look at a situation realistically, because people can recover. Black adds that professionals, such as doctors, teachers and ministers, often feel unprepared to deal with addiction problems they see.

"Often, they feel very inadequate - don't know what to do. Many times, though, they simply don't understand the addition and don't recognize it for what it is."

Black says people anywhere can get help from 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, and there are other groups for family members, too.

"There are 12-step groups available in every community and in rural America. They don't have to go through this alone. People in those groups have learned how to be able to live with whatever it is they have to live with."

Black will be speaking at the National Association of Social Workers-West Virginia annual conference, which runs from April 28-30 at the Charleston Civic Center; her talk is on Wednesday at 9 a.m. More information on the conference is available at 304-345-6279.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV