When a Parent Uses

Did you know that in the U.S., one out of four people under age 18 is exposed to alcoholism and drug dependence in their very own family (American Journal of Public Health)? The most important thing to remember is that it’s not your fault if a parent abuses drugs or alcohol.

For immediate help, call the NineLine 1-800-999-9999 (This hotline is free and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week).

Why does my mom or dad keep drinking too much or using drugs?
Adults have trouble dealing with their problems too. But if you’re worried about your parent’s drinking or drug use, he or she might have a disease – drug addiction or alcoholism. The disease of addiction can cause a loss of control and serious emotional and mental complications that require professional help and counseling.

If they are sick, why don’t they get help?
It’s incredibly hard for people to admit they have a problem. Sometimes people don’t realize how much control drugs have over their lives. Or, they might be terrified of asking for help or dealing with real life without drugs or alcohol.

If my parent has a drug problem, will it happen to me too?
Addiction to drugs and alcohol tends to run in families, so you could face a greater risk, which is worth keeping in mind. But, just as you aren’t doomed to suffer the same problems as your parents based simply on genetics, people with no family history of addiction also develop substance abuse problems. Your environment and other influences have a strong impact, so one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself healthy is to find healthy ways of coping with stress and other problems.

Is it my fault that me parent uses drugs?
No! You can’t control your parents. You didn’t make them drink or use drugs, and unfortunately, you can’t make them stop either. You didn’t cause the disease and you are not the problem.

What can I do to help?
You can’t control what your parent does about his or her problem, but you can get help for yourself. Consider speaking with a trusted adult like a teacher, aunt or uncle, counselor or coach. They will be able to support you during this tough time. There are also many groups with trained professionals who are willing to help you and your family.

For more information and help, visit the National Association for Children of Alcoholics website or call the NineLine anonymous hotline – 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-999-9999. Your parent can also seek help by calling NCADI 1-800-788-2800.

Remember, there are a lot of teenagers who are dealing with this very same problem. You don’t have to feel alone anymore. Reach out for help!

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