Living With an Adult Who Has a Substance Use Problem

Last Updated: Friday, November 6, 2020

sad teen girl(The NIDA Blog Team) For some young people, spending more time at home can be unusually stressful.

Did you know that about one out of every eight children in the United States age 17 or younger (about 8.7 million young people) live in households with at least one parent or caregiver who is coping with a substance use problem? 

Know the facts

In some cases, the parent might be in recovery, but they’ve relapsed. In other cases, the family member may never have sought or received treatment. Living with a person who has a substance use disorder can be especially difficult for young people who can’t leave the house for other activities. 

Research shows that children in this type of environment are more likely to develop depression or anxiety in adolescence and to use alcohol or other drugs early on. These can become lifelong problems if the children (including teens) don’t get help and support.

Honor your feelings

If this is happening to you, it’s important to understand how it might be affecting you or other children in the home. If you’re afraid of the drama in the household, or of being physically hurt, there are some things you can do.

First, it’s important to remember that: 

  • Everybody reacts differently to pressure and worry; even people who love you can lose control of their behavior, especially when substance use is involved. However, there is no excuse for abuse of any kind.
  • Many adults outside your home are willing to help, even if you’re reluctant to talk about such a personal problem...


Read the rest on the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.


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