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NIDA. (2012, February 16). Helping Children of Addicted Parents Find Help. Retrieved from

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Sara Bellum
February 16 2012
Logo for Children of Alcoholics Week

A child looks to his parents or caregivers for total support—from birth to adulthood. But what happens to a child when his parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol?

Celebrating Recovery, Offering Hope

It’s estimated that 25 percent of youth under age 18 are exposed to family alcohol abuse or dependence. Research shows that children in this environment are more likely to develop depression or anxiety in adolescence and use alcohol or other drugs early on. Having a parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can lead to lifelong problems if the child or teen doesn’t get help and support.

February 12–18, 2012 is Children of Alcoholics Week, an event to celebrate the recovery of children of all ages who have gotten the help they needed to recover from the pain they experienced as a result of a close family member’s alcohol problems. The observance also offers hope to those still suffering.

Finding Support

Help is out there. Teens can talk to a school guidance counselor, coach, or trusted teacher. For those who attend religious services, a clergy member is also an option.

Teens may be reluctant to talk to an acquaintance about such a personal problem. Another good option is Alateen, a program that offers support for children of parents who are addicted. Alateen members come together in a free and confidential setting to:

  • Share experiences and hope.
  • Discuss difficulties.
  • Learn effective ways to cope with problems.
  • Encourage one another.

Another option is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This service is also confidential, and counselors can help with substance abuse and family problems, in addition to suicide prevention.