Support if you're a young person affected by a family member’s drug or alcohol use

What to do and who to talk to if a member of your family is using drugs or alcohol in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.


Support if a member of your family is using drugs or alcohol

Lots of people drink alcohol, and sometimes people take drugs, but if a member of your family is using drugs or alcohol in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, like a parent, grandparent, carer or sibling, it can be difficult to know what to do.

You may be worried about the effect this is having on your family member. You may be worried about the effect it is having on you. Or you may be worried that by talking about it, you will get yourself or your family member into trouble. 

If you feel confused, stressed or anxious about a family member’s drug or alcohol use, it’s important for you to know that you're not on your own. There is lots of information and help available. 

Things you might be experiencing

When someone who cares for you uses drugs or drinks a lot, it can have lots of different effects on them, and on you.

Alcohol and drug use can change a person’s behaviour. They may say yes to things they wouldn’t normally. They may be sleepy or they could be either really happy or really moody. You might find this behaviour difficult to understand. It might be scary and you might not want to be around them. 

Using drugs and alcohol can also sometimes make it hard for parents and carers to look after you properly, and provide you with the basic things you need. 

You may experience lots of feelings and emotions that you find are difficult to deal with. You may feel alone, frightened and confused. You might also be worried about your safety or the safety of your family member. 

You may find that these feelings start to affect other areas of your life. You might start to become angry at the people around you. You might lose interest in the things you enjoy, or you might struggle to stay focused in school or college. 

If you’re experiencing difficult feelings, it's good to talk to someone about them, so they can help you find ways to deal with them. 

You're not on your own

It can be hard to talk to people about difficult feelings, especially if you have been keeping things to yourself for a long time. It can also be difficult to find people you feel you can trust. 

Getting help is a very brave step to take and also a very important one. Try not to worry about what people might think of you. Getting help isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s about getting you the support you need.

People you can talk to

Here are some ideas of people you might be able to talk to or places you might go for help.

You can check if we deliver a young person’s service in your area using our service finder. If we do, then you are very welcome to come and see us. You can drop into our service, or you can phone us or send us an email. 

If your local service is delivered by another agency, then you can usually contact them in the same way that you would contact us. 

If you’re nervous about contacting a service, we also have webchat. This is where you can chat to one of our workers online for some information and advice. You don’t even need to give us your name. We’re online between 9am and 9pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday. You can still message us outside of these hours and we will get back to you as soon as we open again. 

Childline is a support service that is available to young people. You can access it online or you can phone them, any time of the day or night.

You can contact them about anything that may be troubling you.

Their number is 0800 1111 or you can also chat online through their website which is

Shout is a service for young people who are struggling with their mental health.

They have a textline where you can chat to one of their works through text message to 85258. 

It’s available 24 hours a day and is free to use.

You may find it helpful to make a list of people in your life who you might be able to talk to. This could be a friend, another family member or a neighbour who you trust.

You may also have people like a teacher, a youth worker or a sports coach who you can talk to. People who work in these types of jobs usually have special training, so they know what to do if a young person tells them about difficult experiences they are having. 

Sian Sinnott, Staff, TT 1

What to expect from our services

Our workers are friendly and they will come and meet you anywhere you feel comfortable. So if you don’t want to come to our building, we can come to your school, or meet you in a place close to your home like a youth club or a community centre. 

We're here to listen, never judge, and we won’t tell anyone about anything you tell us without your permission. You don't have to pay for any of our services. 

Thinking about getting in touch with one of our young person's services?