Addiction can have a serious impact on relationships

A young person facing issues around substance misuse

Life can be very difficult when you are growing up with a parent (or parents) addicted to drugs or alcohol. As the child of an addict, you have to cope with a number of issues that may affect different parts of your life. From not having the right clothes or equipment for school, to caring for your brothers and sisters or even facing violence in your home, growing up with a drug or alcohol addicted parent can cause many problems.

It is normal to feel helpless, worried, upset or angry when you’re living with an addicted parent. But when you’re growing up with someone who uses drugs or alcohol, it is important to always remember that their problems are not your fault.

You didn't cause their addiction - you can't control it or cure it. It is down to them to decide to stop and seek help.

What can you do to help?

As the child of an addicted parent, you can make some choices about the best ways to look after yourself and keep yourself safe. Finding ways to understand and cope with your parent’s alcohol or drug misuse can help you to support them if they are trying to stop.

There are a number of people and places that can give you advice on how to help an alcoholic or drug addicted parent. Talking to someone about the issues you’re facing can really make a difference – you could do this in person with a trusted family member or other adult, over the phone or online.

The following organisations can offer you help and support:

  • Nacoa (0800 358 3456) – The National Association for Children of Alcoholics proves information, advice and support for everyone affected by a parent’s drinking. Nacoa also runs online message boards which enable you to share your experiences with others.
  • Alateen (020 7593 2070) - Alateen is for teenage relatives and friends of alcoholics. Contact them to see if there are local meetings you can go to and meet other young people in a similar situation.
  • Childline (0800 1111) - You can talk to Childline 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
  • Stars National Initiative - Offer a wide variety of online resources for young people, including booklets, information sheets and films from other young people living with addicted parents.

You could also look online for information and advice, and to see if there are any support services in your area. You can find out what services are available near to you by visiting the Adfam website. We also run a number of services and offer information to help families affected by parental drug and alcohol misuse.

Growing up with a parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can be very challenging but it is important to remember that you have rights and deserve to feel safe and protected.

You are not alone, there are places, organisations and people you can go to find the help and support you need to enjoy a brighter future.

Listen to the stories of others

It's important to remember that there are other children and young people out there who have been through similar experiences to you. Listen below to the voice of a young person we have worked with who shared their story.