People who have been impacted by family substance use share their stories

Alcohol and drug use within the family is often not spoken about, but it is important to remember that you are not alone and support is always available. 

On this page you can read stories from people who have been impacted by family substance use and have been helped by our services.

We understand it can feel like your family is the only one in this situation, but you are not alone and it’s okay to speak to someone about how you’re feeling.

You can find advice and support by following these links:

Supporting under 18s impacted by family substance use

Advice for under 18s

Alex's story

“I just felt like half of the time my dad didn't really love me because he loved the alcohol more.

As a child you feel some sort of responsibility. And you shouldn't really, because it's not your responsibility.

We weren't going to be the ones to stop it just because he loved us or had a good time with us. Unfortunately it affected me because he was one of my caregivers. Okay, my dad is my dad, but he's also a man who has a really serious addiction problem and never got help for it.

I think that's one thing that's came out of the support with Change Grow Live: that my dad did love me. And I did feel that love for my dad.

It really just reinforced that my dad actually had an addiction problem. And that problem he had before I was born. So, it really isn't any reflection on me and how much he loved me. He had an addiction problem.

To get that support from Change Grow Live, it just feels like you're being heard by someone who actually understands you.”

Ben's story

“My mum is an alcoholic and has been for a long time. As I grew older it seemed to get worse. I had to start looking after her and my sister when she was drunk instead of her looking after us.

It was a lot to handle because I was always worrying. As time went on, I started living with my nanny. Now I’m a lot happier and don’t worry as much. Me and my sister are in a safe home now.”

What would you like others to know?

“I would like people to know that they shouldn’t be set back due to their parent’s or relative’s problems. And that they shouldn’t be embarrassed by it – even though I am sometimes – because it is an illness.”

What do you see being different about your life in the future?

“In the future I would like my mum to have stopped drinking, and I would like to see her more.”

What have you learned from your experiences?

“I am proud of myself for taking care of my mum and sister when my mum couldn’t.”

What advice could you give to others in a similar situation?

“I would tell them that it will all be okay in the end. They shouldn’t be ashamed of their parent’s or relative’s problems.”

How has support helped you?

“My sessions helped me by getting things off my chest and sharing my feelings, so I wasn’t holding them in.”

Becca's story

“My older brother became addicted to drugs at 13. It became a massive impact in my education and affected my mental health.

I could never stop thinking about all the possibilities that something bad might happen to him. I could never express my feelings to anyone as in my old school nobody understood my story.

When I got to secondary school, I opened up and got lots of help and I felt more confident that other people understood what I was going through.

Talking to other adults really helps, as they know what to do and will help expand your knowledge about the situation.

Support has showed me that I’m not alone, all the ways I can cope when others aren’t there, and most of all that I matter.”

Mo's story

“I think I was maybe 8 when my Dad started drinking. I never really saw it as a bad thing back then. As I got older I started to understand what was happening and this made me really anxious. His drinking has made our relationship very on and off because of the mood swings and the arguments we have when he has been drinking.

What would you like to tell people about your situation, that they perhaps don’t already know or might be surprised by?

Even when he’s not drinking it still hurts.

What have been some of the key moments in your life over the last year?

Finding ways to cope with and manage the anxiety surrounding Dad’s drinking.

What do you see being different about your life in the future?

I will be wary around alcohol.

What have you learned from your experiences?

That it’s okay to feel anxious sometimes.

What advice would you give to others in a similar situation?

To talk to someone.

How did Change Grow Live support you?

It helped me with my anxiety because I’ve been able to talk to someone and know I’m not being judged.

I know more ways to cope with it and not let it take over.

Emily's story

“My parents got a divorce and Mum’s drinking escalated. The first incident I remember was when I found her unresponsive on the stairs. In the years that followed it got worse and whenever I said anything my family told me I was being controlling. 

Mum would tell me that I was lucky, she put a roof over our heads, how could she be abusive and an alcoholic if she was going to work and taking us to the doctors. 

I was belittled, locked out the house late at night, laughed at when I cried, and then the next day I would be expected to act as if all was fine. I went to school for help, but they saw a functioning middle-class woman. 

I stopped trusting those who were supposed to help me after that. 

I was in and out of mental health services throughout my adolescence. Social services got involved but closed the case quickly and we were back in the same position. My mental health worker also disappeared without warning. 

Thankfully, my Change Grow Live worker had started regularly meeting with me by then, and the support they have provided has been invaluable.

Just having someone who believes you and listens to you is vital.

I’ve learned that it’s never your fault, no matter what the other person is telling you or how you’re made to feel. 

After being failed by so many adults, I’m beginning to trust those people who are supposed to be helping me again. Lockdown would have been a lot harder without my Change Grow Live worker.

Now I’ve got an offer from the university of my choice. I get to leave and go to university, and I get to choose who I spend my days with. That was something I had been aiming towards for a long time, and it still seems a little surreal.”

Get help, support and advice

If you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol, we’re here to help.

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