"I live with an alcoholic mothere and it's like every day when she
starts to drink I lose her, so everyday I am grieving. I am coping by going to group and individual counseling." High
dad is an alcoholic. I don't know how to deal with it but I try not to think about it because whenever I do I think about
of death. I don't know what to do!" High School Senior
"what can I do when one of my family members drinks a lot? I am really worried and I cry about
it a lot?" High School Freshman
These are among the many notes I receive from students after I deliver my presentation,
Teens Coping with Grief, Loss and Other Tough Stuff.
A great web site with a lot of helpful information is: www.nacoa.net (National Association for Children
Here is a wonderful article by Claudia
Black who has written much in the field of addiction in the past 30 years that you will find on www.nacoa.net:
Children of Addiction
By Claudia Black, Ph.D.
Created Feb 8
2010 - 2:23pm
Thirty years ago I began working with children impacted by addiction in their family. Addiction in the family is a legacy that continues to thrive, although today we have a much better understanding
of how children are influenced when raised with the chaos and fear that permeate an addictive family.
Recently I was confronted with issues of children on
two fronts. I was working in a treatment facility in their four day family program and had the opportunity to work with
some children of clients - a 15 year old, 17 year old and 23 year old. These young adults were aware of how their lives
were negatively impacted via their relationships with others, their own use of drugs, and how fear in general was influencing their decisions about many aspects of their lives. Then while sitting in an airport, I
received a call from a desperate mother wanting to know what she should do as her husband, in an alcoholic fury, had just
hit their preteen age son. These are just four of the estimated 27.8 million children in the U.S. affected by or exposed
to a family alcohol problem. This number does not include those affected by or exposed to other drug problems.
These children are at increased risk for a range of problems, including physical illness, emotional disturbances,
behavioral problems, lower educational performance and susceptibility to alcoholism or other addictions later in their life.
It doesn't have to be this way. Through our churches, schools, other community venues, and online social networking sites there is an opportunity to advocate for these vulnerable children who are not in a position to advocate for themselves.
Children living with addiction in their family, be it an addicted parent, sibling or other relative, need to know that the addiction and the resulting behavior is not their fault. They need to hear the
message that they did not cause it nor can they control it. They need to hear they are not alone. Most importantly they
need to hear there are people they can talk to, adults in their school, their church or synagogue, a friend's parent, an
extended family member, etc. As concerned family and community members and helping professionals we need to recognize the
role we can play in these children's lives.
Now is the time to be willing to rise to the occasion.
Sunday February 14th through Saturday February 20th is Children of Alcoholics Week 2010, a week dedicated
to bringing awareness to the needs of these children. NACoA, the National Association for Children of Alcoholics has a wealth of free information about children,
and even more so about resources and ways for you to become involved in this week and in the future. ACO week can be about
you educating and creating greater numbers of people who reach out and let children know they are available to them and
they will understand.
It is my hope we all recognize that we are in a position to impact these
children not just this one week but 365 days a year.
There is help for
emotional dysregulation and learning emotional regulation. Through such things as: as Ala-teen, Al-Anon, group
therapy, individual counseling, meditation, yoga, massage, relaxation exercises, activities that soothe the emotional system
and teach skills of mind/body regulation.
Has Your Life Been Affected By Someone Else’s Drinking?
Alateen Is for You!
Alateen is for young people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking. Sometimes the active drinking
has stopped, or the active drinker may not live with us anymore. Even though the alcohol may be gone, and the alcoholic gone
or recovering in AA, we are still affected. Many of us have received help from Alateen or Al-Anon. The following 20 questions
are to help you decide whether or not Alateen is for you.
1.Do you believe no one could possibly understand how you feel?
2.Do you cover up your real feelings by pretending you don’t care? _____
feel neglected, uncared for, or unloved? _____
4. Do you tell lies to cover up for someone else’s
drinking or what’s happening in your home? _____
5. Do you stay out of the house as much as possible
because you hate it there? _____
6.Are you afraid or embarrassed to bring your friends home? _____
7. Has someone’s drinking upset you?_____
8.Are mealtimes, birthdays, and holidays spoiled because of drinking
or others’ reactions to the drinking? _____
9.Are you afraid to speak up for fear the drinking
or fighting will start again?_____
10.Do you think the drinker’s behavior is caused by you, other members of your
fam- ily, friends, or rotten breaks in life? _____
11.Do you make threats such as, “If you don’t stop drinking
and fighting, I’ll run away?” _____
12.Do you make promises about behavior, such as I’ll
“get better grades,” or “keep my room clean,” or “do anything you want,” in exchange for
a promise that the drinking and fighting will stop? _____
13. Do you feel that if the drinker loved
you, she or he would stop drinking? _____
14.Do you ever threaten or actually hurt yourself to scare
the drinker into saying, “I’m sorry,” or “I love you”? _____
or your family have money problems because of someone else’s drinking? _____
16. Are you scared
to ride in a car with the drinker? _____
17.Have you considered calling the police because of abusive
18.Do you avoid dating or having close friends because they may find out about the
drinking or fighting? _____
19. Do you think your problems would be solved if the drinking stopped?
20. Do you ever treat teachers, friends, team- mates, etc. unfairly because you are angry about someone else’s
If you have answered yes to any of these ques- tions, Alateen may help you. You can
con- tact Al-Anon and Alateen by looking in your local telephone directory or by writing to:
Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters,
1600 Corporate Landing Parkway
Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617 Telephone: 757-563-1600 Fax: 757-563-1655
site: www.al-anon.alateen.org E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For meeting information call: 1-888-425-2666 (1-888-4AL-ANON) (USA
and Canada, Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET)
©Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 2000 22-150M-05-100/2.00
S-20 Printed in U.S.A.
Click here for AL-Anon and Alateen Meeting Lists for the US
Risk Factors for the Child/Teen of an alcoholic/addict:
Genetics: Big debate for years over whether or not you can inherit the disease. Recent studies suggest that
genetics accounts for 40-60 percent of the risk for developing substance abuse. If you have a parent who is an alcoholic,
or other biological relative, you are more likely to feel a heightened sense of pleasure or elation and relaxation after drinking
alcohol than someone who doesn't have alcoholism in the family. If you and a friend from a nonalcoholic family have identical
blood alcohol levels, your friend may feel the effects of alcohol sooner than you.
Family dynamics may contribute to addiction. According to the Medical Council on
Alcoholism, any of the following factors may increase the risk of psychological and social problems in kids, whether or not
they have alcoholism in the family or not.
These may increase likeliness of developing an addiction:
- death of a parent
- parent's unemployment
- parents' divorce or separation
- illness of a parent
Family Relationship Issues:
- Can you depend on family members?
- Is the family unhappy?
- Do family members understand you?
not, do they try to?
Communication problems in the family:
- Do family members talk about problems directly or only hint at them or avoid them?
family members show affection?
Conflict in the family:
- Do family members criticize each other?
- Fight a lot?
Mental Illness and Emotional Problems:
Mental illness and emotional problems increase the risk for addiction. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, bi-polar
disorder, or other mood disorders it is common to try to self medicate with alcohol or other substances. People who have social
anxiety or who are very shy in social situations also may turn to alcohol or other substances in order to feel less self conscious
Alcohol changes the brain chemicals and therefore may produce
anxiety and depression. It is hard to know at times which came first: the addiction or the depression and anxiety? Depression
in users may also contribute to increase in relapsing, therefore it is crucial to also get the depression treated as well
as the addiction.
Some people have a dual diagnosis: substance abuse
and mental illness. Their treatment is going to be a bit more complicated. The more serious the mental disorder, the more
likely it is to feel a compulsion to use. Please seek help from a mental health professional. A comprehensive treatment plan
is necessary in addition to self help groups such as the 12 Step programs that focus only on addiction.
For Teenagers Living With a Parent Who Abuses Alcohol/Drugs
by Edith Lynn Hornik-Beer
When Parents Have Problems: A book for teens and older children with
an abusive, alcoholic or mentally ill parent by Susan B. Miller
Beyond the Blues: A workbook to
help teens overcome depression by Lisa Schab, LCSW
The Anger Workbook for Teens:
activities to help you deal with anger and frustration by Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, MS
Workbook for Teens: dbt skills to help you control your mood swings by Sheri Van Dijk, MSW and Karma Guindon, MSW
The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: activities to help you deal with anxiety and worry by Lisa Schab, LCSW
Teens Write Through It: Essays from Teens Who Have Triumphed Over Trouble, Fairview Press
Kids Write Through It: Essays from Kids Who Have Triumphed Over Trouble, Fairview Press
CLEAN: A New Generation in Recovery Speaks Out by Chris Beckman, Former cast member of MTV's Real World: Chicago
( Recovery from a young addict's perspective).