For Children

This page is for children whose parents drink too much or use drugs. Growing up is hard. It is even harder for children when one or both of their parents drink too much or are addicted to drugs. It’s not fair. But always remember, it’s not your fault. No matter what they might say when they are drunk or stoned, it’s not your fault. You didn’t cause it.


Does your mom or dad drink too much?

Does your mom or dad use drugs?


It’s not your fault.

Your parents have a sickness; a sickness that you can’t cure. They love you the best that they know how, even if they are sometimes mean to you.

The sicknesses of alcoholism or drug addiction are very hard to get over. But it is your parent’s job to do that, not yours. It is your job to learn and grow up as best you can. Even if it is not your parents, if you live with any adult who’s drinking or drugging causes you pain or unhappiness, it is their job to fix it.

It is okay for children to feel angry or sad or lonely sometimes. Even adults have a hard time living with alcoholics and addicts. For children it is even harder, so don’t feel guilty because you get mad at them. Although there is nothing you can do to stop their drinking or drugging, you can do things to make your life better.

Help yourself feel better.

There is nothing you can do about your parent’s problem. However, you can do things to help yourself feel better. Learn about drugs and alcohol and the problems that they can cause. Talk to your friends or an adult that you trust. You are not alone. There are millions of kids in the same situation, some of them at your school, maybe in you classroom. Having a friend to talk to helps a lot.

Check out Alateen if there is a group in your town. This is a group for children with problems like yours that get together to help each other. You can find their web site on the Hot Lines page.

Do things that you enjoy; sports, clubs, reading, or anything that makes you feel good about who you are. Laugh with your friends. It is too easy to forget to live when we are dealing with problems. Remember to let that stuff go sometimes and have some fun.

Plan for emergencies.

If your alcoholic or drug using parent does things that are dangerous to you or your sisters and brothers, there are things that you can do to prepare for emergencies.

  • Make arrangements with a friend and their parents so that you (and your brothers and sisters) can just show up if you are afraid to be at home.
  • Keep extra money to make phone calls to get help.
  • Write down and carry around telephone numbers of places you can get help or stay in an emergency. This could include your friends, your relatives, your teachers, neighbors, the police, a minister, the fire department, your doctor and the ambulance service. Work with your brothers and sisters to memorize the telephone numbers.
  • Talk with your sisters and brothers about making an emergency plan of what to do and where to meet if something bad happens. Talk about what you will do if a parent gets violent, angry or sad. Talk about what you will do to help each other if a parent touches any of you in any way that feels wrong. Talk with a trustworthy adult about your plans to see if they have anything to suggest that might make the plans better.
  • Never ride in a car when a parent, or anyone else, is going to drive while drunk or stoned. Call a friend or their parent to get a ride home. If your parent tries to force you to get in the car when they are driving drunk or stoned, try and get away and call the police and tell them what's going on. It may save your life and the lives of your brothers, sisters and parents.

Some of these are hard to do. Talk to your sisters and brothers or with a friend about how this makes you feel. Get one of them to pretend to be the drunk or stoned parent and then practice doing what you plan to do to keep yourself safe.

This page was made for children who have parents that drink too much or who use drugs. Hopefully you found some information in these pages that will help. If you have questions, please send me a note by clicking here. I’ll do what I can to provide additional information.

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