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stranglehold within the family. Much like individuals are affected by others’ smoking, those around the drinker/drug-taker can’t escape the results of his/her use. In effect, their environment becomes infused by “passive drinking,” a label for drinking habits that affect all family members and a wider network around the drinker. For some decades alcohol problems have typically been understood to concern harm to the drinkers. This approach focuses principally on the disease of alcoholism, a paradigm that has dominated since the 1950s, following a period in Western countries where harm to women and children had mobilized strong social movements against excessive drinking. Lately, however, the understanding of alcohol problems has evolved to include the enormous harms that are inflicted on people other than the drinkers themselves. That understanding now has wide recognition within academia, among NGOs, and in national and international networks. Because children are among the most grievously harmed innocent victims of substance use, it is also vitally important that child rights organizations, too, advocate for such an approach to substance use and add their voices to related policy discussions. Protection of children and youth must be a primary concern for alcohol and drug policies. Very few countries have systematically and scientifically documented the full extent and character of harm to children resulting from adult substance use. Most reports and data come from research in a small number of Western countries. Nonetheless, some Asian and African countries have recognized the problem and we present


Childhood matters