Drugs and Alcohol (young people)
Family relationships, alcohol and drugs
Alcohol and family relationships
Some people felt that their parents had set a good example with alcohol. They described their parents as moderate drinkers and few had seen their parents really drunk. Hayley’s parents don’t drink very often but on the rare occasions they do, she says they seem ‘happy’. Stephanie remembers that some of her friends’ parents would get ‘smashed’ but she never saw her parents get that drunk. She is grateful that she learnt about drinking through her parents’ example.
Parents had different attitudes to underage drinking. Some young people were allowed to drink a bit on special occasions but others grew up in households where alcohol was off limits. Joe’s parents allowed him to drink soft alcoholic drinks, like alcopops, in moderation before he was eighteen, but his father got worried when he found out the Joe had taken a bottle of whisky from his cabinet. He didn’t approve of him drinking strong alcohol at such a young age.
Emily thinks her parents were right to let her drink alcohol at home on special occasions, so she...
Kims mother didnt approve of underage drinking and she used to get into trouble every time she...
Jen grew up in a practising Christian family and felt bad about drinking alcohol. It created family tensions at the time but she now thinks that it was just a phase in her teens.
I think it hasn’t been detrimental at all like I don’t feel like I’ve missed out really like in the, like I really don’t feel like I’ve missed out. Like I did one line of coke once and I’m done. I’ve, I, you know, smoked weed and I don’t. I think that for me in my, at that I felt comfortable enough with that. And yeah I don’t feel I really don’t feel like I’ve missed out. I feel that. I was perhaps over cautious and I kind of did think to start with that you know if I did smoke weed then I might be a heroin addict. Now I see that’s totally not true. Like I just that I mean I don’t think the two are really connected to be honest with you. But yes I was over cautious but I don’t think it’s had any detrimental, I don’t regret any of that, no.
Emma thinks it’s important to know that your parents are there for you, if you need help.
Drugs and family relationships
Some people talked about how their parents didn’t seem to realise that they were using drugs. Stephanie smoked cannabis for four years while living with her parents. Her mother noticed that she was moody and her behaviour was changeable but didn’t seem to suspect that Stephanie was smoking cannabis. Chloe’s mother knew she smoked cannabis but didn’t appear to realise that Chloe was using other drugs.
Chloes mum never seemed to notice she was taking ecstasy even when she used it at home.
It was difficult for people to tell their families about their drug use even when they realised they needed help. Craig thinks that people worry about their families finding out because they feel they’d be letting them down. When Craig’s family found out he was using cannabis, he was most worried about his grandmother’s reaction. He lived with her and he described her as a ‘no nonsense’ lady. He said that his family members all reacted differently and while his grandmother was against any drugs, his father and aunt were more understanding.
When Craig's grandmother found out he was using cannabis, she told him never to bring it home. But she looked after him if he came back stoned.
- Talking to them and trying to understand why
- Getting more strict about discipline
- Grounding them
- Shouting at them
Chloe's mother's first response was denial. She later tried everything to stop her taking drugs from grounding her to hitting her.
When Jim's father found out his son was addicted to heroin he talked to him and tried to understand the causes of his addiction. His mother was very upset about it.
The relationship between Sam and his parents was very strained when he was using drugs. (Played by an actor)
No they, I wouldn’t listen to them, Fucking idiots aren’t they, I didn’t want to listen to them. They were just going on at me. So I ended up moving out.
Now that they are older, Karis and Kasim appreciate how upsetting their hostile, angry attitude...
Kasim: Yeah I realise that as well.
If drunk or under the influence of drugs, Michelle would sleep at older friends’ houses to avoid going home and getting into trouble with her mum. She thinks this led to her becoming pregnant in her teens.
Well of course I would be like any young girl, “It wasn’t my fault and people made me and, my brother made me.” And, I actually got him [laughs] into a lot of trouble as well, just told her everything one day, yeah it was just, it was, I mean we never had a friendship relation anyway she was always very strict, very, you know, you, you, I used to go back to my friend’s house because I knew if I go back to my house at past twelve o’clock at night, drunk, I knew my mum would just, reach seven bells out of it, I knew that she would be that strict and I knew that there would be that much repercussion, I just I couldn’t, you know, I couldn’t. I, so I used togo to my friend’s house and it was more of an avoidance thing, and I think this whole thing with like avoiding my mum and avoiding the home because I was going to be in so much trouble and things like that, I think that’s actually what kind of led on to the whole teenage pregnancy issue because where I would be avoiding her and avoiding going home because I knew that I was in so much trouble I would, you know I would stay with people, and I, so the people I would stay with right? They would be a couple of years older and they would have a baby and I would stay at their flat and, you know, and I, because I had to stay with different people because I didn’t want to go home that’s how I ended up sort of getting very independent, although I thought I was independent and that was when I started going around taking drugs with my friend and that, because it was kind of like I was very, I thought I was independent, I knew I wasn’t going to go home because I was going to get in trouble and there would be too much conflict with my mum there but also it led me to have too much freedom because I was doing, like I say, I was just doing pills all weekend, Thursday to Sunday, you know.
Michelle's father would babysit when she went out, but brought the baby back early the next day. Knowing she had to look after her baby in the morning stopped her from getting ‘smashed’.
I actually stopped drinking, obviously I stopped when I had my little girl and, but I just drank more responsibly after I had her like, I would only drink if she was safely at a babysitter’s and it was a night out, like a night out in the town, like with a friend for a birthday or with a group of friends because you just work somewhere and you got new work friends, and it wouldn’t be very often it would be about, you know, once every three months or so you know? So it would be like, you know, really, stagnated sort of time, like and it would just literally be for then and my [slight laugh], what my heaven, my dad used to do he said he was, he said he [slight laugh] was helping me, he used to, after I had been out on one of my nights out and he had been babysitting, he used to bring my little girl back at like something ridiculous like half past nine in the morning, and I, I never understood that for ages I was like, ‘oh why is he bringing her back so early like? Oh I’ve got a hangover, like I drunk too much, like why is he bringing her back so early?’ but it did it taught me to be responsible, drink less and then I, because I knew I would have my little girl to look after the next day and I knew my parents were going to bring her back early because they knew [laughs], they, they, in some weird way that was their lesson you know? And I knew I had to look after her so I knew I had to, I couldn’t get as trashed as I might have wanted to because I had a responsibility.
Leah experienced physical and mental abuse and bullying by her stepfather. She left home several times, between the ages of 14 and 15 and eventually went to live with an aunt.
For some people, their family, and parents in particular, were the biggest source of emotional and practical support. They helped them in their efforts to give up drugs, deal with alcohol addiction or mental health issues. It was mostly parents whom young people turned to when they realised they needed help.
Parents were described by some as patient, supportive and available to talk things through with. Harry appreciates that although his health problems were self-inflicted, his parents stood by him. His mother dealt with his mental health problems directly but his father ‘beat around the bush’ and found it difficult to ask direct questions.
Harry says that the whole experience brought him closer to his parents who have been very...
Daniel said that giving up drugs and alcohol has been worth it because he no longer makes his mother cry.
Brothers and sisters could feel neglected by their parents when a sibling with a drug problem was given more time and attention. Chloe said that she used to get all her mother’s attention when she was using drugs, which her little sister may have resented. Her sister started smoking cannabis which she still does. Craig’s siblings reacted differently to his use of cannabis. Craig‘s little brother looked up to him and may have been disappointed but his sister asked to try some, which he refused. Ben and Hugh suggested that having older brothers who didn’t use drugs or smoke cigarettes prevented them from getting heavily involved with either.
People said that sibling relationships improved after they stopped using drugs and also because everyone grew up.
Last reviewed :July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.