Whose Problem Is It?
How Alcohol and Drug Use
Affects the Family
a person in your family -- your mom, dad, sister, brother
or other family member -- who is abusing alcohol or
drugs? How does this affect you? After all, it's their
problem, not yours, right?
Sadly, the answer is "wrong". Teens from families with drinking or drug problems almost always suffer consequences, even when they aren't aware there's a problem. Some teens from these families experience low self-esteem, loneliness and often deep anger. Physical, emotional and sexual abuse are also more common when there's drug or alcohol abuse in the family.
To Help Your Family, Help Yourself
You may feel so ashamed of the problem that you want to hide it or pretend it doesn't exist. In many families, the problem is never even mentioned, even though everyone knows it exists. Everyone cooperates in making it easier for the "problem person" to continue with the addiction.
In other families, there may be constant blaming and threatening, but no real change. Probably deep down inside, you want the "problem person" to change, and fear for your family if the problem continues. Believe it or not, your best chance for rebuilding a happy family life is to start by changing yourself.
Steps You Can Take
Ask your school counselor, doctor, minister or another close adult to help you find a support group for families of substance abusers. A good group is Al-Anon, which has chapters in most communities. Another group, Alateen, is especially geared toward your needs. When you talk with others who are going through what you're going through, you won't feel so alone.
Even better, these groups can help you learn how to take care of your own life and set firm limits on what the substance abuser or your family can demand from you. It won't be easy, and at first, taking care of your own needs may seem disloyal. But in the long run these changes won't hurt your family, and they may even help your family begin to recover. You see, substance abuse is a family problem, and when family members begin to take charge of their own actions, the path to recovery for the whole family begins to open up.