Parents play an important role for children and teens. They are there to protect, guide, and lead their children to a safe and successful future. However, some parents didn’t have adults who did that for them when they were growing up and the result might be addiction, domestic violence, or other unhealthy family patterns. If your parents drink too much or struggle with an addiction, there are resources that you can use to help yourself manage the challenges of regular substance use in the family. This article will include resources for teens whose parents drink too much or who regularly use drugs.
First, if you don’t already have any support, find an adult you trust. You may feel like going to your mother or father, the one who is drinking or using drugs on a regular basis. However, this might not bring you the results you want. Instead, you may need to go outside of your family and talk to a relative, friend, or school administrator about your experience. You might also talk to an older sibling or even a younger sibling if he or she is old enough to understand. Having the support of someone else may help reduce feelings of being alone in this problem.
Second, get some professional help. Although you are under 18 years old, there are some forms of professional assistance that you can access without the consent of a parent. Typically, if you are getting mental health services, you’ll need the consent of both your parents. However, this is not always the case. For instance, if you have access to the Internet, there is a wealth of information for children and teens whose parents struggle with addiction. Here are a few online resources to consider:
- The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) has a page on their site dedicated to children and teens. This site has a library of information available. You can use it to better understand the ways that family addiction might be affecting your life. One of the most important messages that this particular page offers is that it’s not your fault!
- Another very informative site is KidsHealth.org. There is a segment of this site that is dedicated to teens, including a page that discusses how to cope with an alcoholic parent. This site provides the story of a teen who has to face the realities of his mother’s drinking. It also has resources and tips to cope.
- Lastly, Alateen is another resource for getting support. You can find information online but you can also attend support groups that will likely have other teens whose parents drink or use drugs. Having others around you who are your same age and who face the same challenges might be incredibly healing. You might hear how their feelings closely mirror your own. And this alone can feel supportive. However, you might also hear about how other teens cope with the challenges at home.
Whether you find support online, through Alateen, or with a trusted adult, make sure you have assistance to face this family challenge. You deserve to have the help you need.