Recently, we have seen an increase in calls from parents, grandparents and caregivers of children who have loved ones living with alcohol/drug addiction. They all want to know how best to help the young person in their care who has been impacted by the substance abuse of this parent/caregiver. No one wants to believe that children are impacted but the research, and our own work with families, clearly indicates that they are very much affected. Though the great news is that by giving our children some clear messages and allowing them to chat about their feelings about this “taboo” or forbidden topic in their families, recovery for the whole family is possible – even if the loved one, who remains ill with addiction, does not recover!

So what messages can we share with the child impacted by a loved one’s addiction?

  • Sharing your feelings is not being mean or disloyal to your family.

  • When you talk to someone you trust, you begin to feel better and feel less alone.

  • When you live with alcoholic/drug addicted parents, feeling afraid and alone is normal. It is confusing to hate the disease of alcoholism at the same time that you love your alcoholic parent.

  • Remember to have fun! Sometimes children with alcoholic families worry so much that they forget how to be “just a kid.” Find a way to let yourself have fun.

  • DON’T ride in a car when the driver has been drinking if you can avoid it. It is not safe. Please help protect your child from having to ride with someone who has been drinking.

  • You have no control over the drinking. You didn’t make the problem start, and you can’t make it stop – and you can’t “make” anyone use alcohol or drugs!!

The National Association of Children of Alcoholics (www.nacoa.org) shares “THE SEVEN C’s”, a tool to help young people understand that they are not responsible for their parents’ problems. Children need to know that it is not their fault when their parents drink too much or abuse drugs, and that they cannot control their parents’ behavior. They can be shown that there are ways they can learn to deal with their parents’ alcoholism or drug use.

  • I didn’t CAUSE it

  • I can’t CURE it

  • I can’t CONTROL it

  • I can help take CARE of myself by COMMUNICATING my feelings, making healthy CHOICES and CELEBRATING me!

Please join us June 4th and 18th for a “CELEBRATION OF HOPE AND HEALING for FAMILY MEMBERS AFFECTED by SUBSTANCE ABUSE” with video and refreshments from 5:15pm to 6:30pm at the Laboure Center, 275 West Broadway, South Boston, MA 02127. The group is led by Maureen McGlame, M. Ed., LADC1, LCSW , Director of COASA, who has 35 years experience working with children and families. Please call Danielle at the IIIC (617-542-7654 ext.14 or dowen@iicenter.org) if you have any questions about this event or about recovery in families. Change IS always possible – We can help!