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My Parents are Addicts

A doctor once told me a story. She was interviewing a patient who had issues with drugs and was finishing his two years stay in a rehabilitation centre. She asked the patient what his future plans were when he leaves the rehabilitation centre later. Nonchalantly he answered…” what else, back to drugs!”. The doctor was astonished and wondered why he didn’t want to lead a normal life. The patient answered again. “ What is normal? When I started to know the world, both my parents were taking drugs and so now I take drugs!” Alas!! Both his parents were drug addicts.

Source: The Local (news @thelocal.de)

How do you know if your parents are addict?

Substance addiction is a mental illness where a person has a compulsive need to continue using substance despite the negative events and problems that occur as a result of his/her use. If their need is not fulfilled they will feel unwell. The substance of abuse may be alcohol, drugs ( heroin, cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine etc), prescribed medications like some pain relieving medication, sleeping tablets and etc.

If you find that you parents are having problem controlling their use of these substances, they may be having substance addiction.

You may be wondering why they continue taking these substance despite all their problems. Since addiction is an illness, your parents may not be able to stop the habit. Addiction can cause a person to lose control and develop lots of mental and emotional complications.

So why don’t they seek help?

Your parents may not realise that they are not well. Adults sometimes have a lot of denial in acknowledging their problems. They might not know where to go to get help or feel embarrased about others knowing their problems When they do eventually admit they have a problem, they will need professional help for treatment and counselling to come out of that behaviour and illness.

What are you supposed to do when you find out that your parents are addicts?

Knowing that your parents are addicts may be a nightmare and you may feel horrible. Whatever you feel there are a few things that you should consider.

  • Don’t blame yourself for their doings. You did not CAUSE them to indulge in this behaviour. Your parents do not become addicts by choice. Once it become an illness, it is beyond their control.

  • You cannot CONTROL them. The only person you can control is yourself

  • You cannot CURE them from this illness. They will need help. Encourage them to get help even though you may have to say it thousands of time.

    1. Get help for yourself.

    2. Try to talk to adults whom you can trust. They may be your relatives, teachers, community leaders or doctors. Tell them of your worries and needs and they may help you or direct you to someone who can help. Or sometimes you may just need someone who you can talk to

    3. Ensure the safety of you and your siblings. If a big quarrel develops or there is an inclination of abusive behaviour, leave the scene.

    4. Ensure you have a shelter over your head and you are still able to attend school and classes as usual. There are people who can help you with this.

    5. Be strong spiritually.

Why do you need to know about all these?

When you understand what your parents are having, you will be able to make life better for yourself.


You will have a more realistic expectations.

When you know your parents are having an illness that makes them incapable of doing lot of things; you will not expect them to jog with you, help you with your school works and etc. You may feel sad but you will be able to cope with it as you are already anticipating it.

You are more prepared for your own future.

Children of parents who are addicts have a higher tendency to have problems with using alcohol or other drugs or become addicts themselves. Get all the information and knowledge about addiction, their risks and complications and how to deal with addicts. You will have knowledge on what to avoid. This knowledge will help you to plan your own substance-free future.

Your parents may have problem with themselves but they are still you mum and dad. Deep inside, they still have lots of love for you. When they are treated and become sober you will realise what  wonderful people they are and how lucky you are to be their child. So be focus on getting all the knowledge to understand them and on being a better person yourself.


  1. http://abovetheinfluence.com/when-a-parent-uses/

  2. http://www.thehillscenter.com/family/dealing-with-drug-addicted-parents/

  3. http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102008123

Last Reviewed : 18 June 2015
Writer : Dr. Salmah binti Nordin
Accreditor : Dr. Hargeet Kaur a/p Basant Singh