Drug Addiction Hurts Families: Where to Turn if Your Mom or Dad Is Using Drugs

Drug Addiction Hurts Families: Where to Turn if Your Mom or Dad Is Using Drugs
Drug addiction puts a lot of stress on parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents – anyone who is part of the home. When family members take drugs:
  • You can’t count on them to do what they say they will do.
  • They may forget or get distracted because their focus is on getting and taking drugs.
  • They might lie or steal money to buy drugs.
  • They might get fired from their jobs.
  • They might not come home at night.
  • They may do bad things they would never do if they weren't abusing drugs.
When a person is addicted to drugs, he or she has a disease that can hurt the family. Family members might fight a lot because of the problems the drug abuse is causing. Most people who abuse alcohol or drugs have jobs and are productive members of society, creating a false hope in the family that “it’s not that bad.” But addiction tends to worsen over time, hurting both the addicted person and all the family members. It is especially damaging to young children and adolescents.

Where to Find Help if Your Parent Is Addicted to Drugs

If you feel bad because your Mom or Dad is using drugs, there are steps you can take to make things better for yourself even though you cannot stop your parent from using. Talk to a caring adult. There are many adults who will listen and help you deal with problems at home, even when it seems no one has noticed. Sometimes they are not sure if you want or need support and are waiting for you to say something first. Often a teacher, school counselor, youth minister, coach, doctor, nurse, friend’s parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle is knowledgeable and anxious to help. Families with alcohol or drug problems often try to keep it a secret. Talking to a trusted adult really helps, and it is not being disloyal to your family if you seek help for yourself.  If you don’t get the help you need from the first person you approach, it is important to reach out to another adult you can trust. Get involved in youth programs. Join in activities offered through your school or your community. Hang out with other young people, use your talents and strengths and learn new skills while making friends and having fun.

If Your Friend’s Mom or Dad Uses Drugs

Don’t walk away, and don’t pretend you don’t see it. Things you can say that might help:
  • It’s not your fault that your parent drinks or uses drugs.
  • You’re not alone – lots of kids come from families where this is a problem.
  • There are people who can help.
Things you can do:
  • Be a good friend – include your friend in your activities and your family’s fun.
  • Encourage your friend to talk to a trusted adult.

Support Groups for Children Living with Drug Addiction in the Family

Children can benefit from participating in educational support groups in their school student assistance programs. Those age 11 and older can join Alateen groups. For help if you or a loved one feels sad, hopeless or suicidal: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This service is also confidential, and counselors can help with drug addiction and family problems, in addition to suicide prevention. For more information on making better choices when it comes to drugs, browse the QuickSeries® library of guides, including Keeping Youth Drug Free and Drug Awareness: Know the Dangers.