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Drugs and Alcohol (young people)

Family relationships, alcohol and drugs

Here, young people talk about their relationships with parents and family and whether their use of alcohol or illegal drugs affected these relationships.
 
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...

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Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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I discuss a lot more to do with alcohol than drugs with my parents. Like my parents don’t mind if I’m drinking in the house if I don’t have much like around Christmas and that as a lot of parents don’t if you just do a bit. They’d rather me have a drink in the house with them than go out in the streets drinking on the streets where you’re getting done for drinking on the streets and having a lot more than limits are really. So…
 
Do you think that your parents’ attitude has helped you keep your drinking under control?
 
Yes I think it has because like with them letting me have a drink in the house like when it’s special occasion or something I think that’s influenced me a lot because it’s made me feel like I don’t need to go out and drink because they’re actually letting me drink when it’s in house as some parents that don’t let you drink. Don’t let their children drink in houses. They’re like a lot of them will go out on the streets and drink behind the parents backs rather than do it at home. So I think that influenced me a lot because I feel like I could ask them if I wanted a drink and like so. 
 
 

Kim’s mother didn’t approve of underage drinking and she used to get into trouble every time she...

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Age at interview: 21
Sex: Female
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And were your parents at that time aware that you were drinking or?
 
Yeah I think so. I think they realised when I came home [laugh] and I used to get in trouble all the time but I still went out and did it. So...
 
What do you mean get in trouble?
 
For drinking under age. My mum wasn’t happy about it at all but. I used to get grounded and things but I still done it [ha]. I still managed to go out and do it.
 
Ok so they tried. Did they try to talk to you about it, about why not to do it?
 
No. No I think it was more just I wasn’t to do it [ha].
 
So apart from getting sort of grounded what else were they trying to do?
 
Trying not to give me as much money as what I used to do because I got caught smoking quite young as well. So my mum just stopped giving me money and so.
 
Ok so what were you doing for money?
 
Sometimes I would keep my lunch money [laugh]. So and also I worked for my dad on a Tuesday so I used to get money for that as well.
 
And did you get into much trouble with your parents as a teenager because of drinking or not?
 
I suppose, not that much like I mean I would get grounded and things but nothing major nothing really bad. I just live with my mum, and my dad are split up but my mum’s not really a drinker so I don’t think she really knew what to tell me.  
 

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.

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Age at interview: 25
Sex: Female
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So drinking alcohol particularly when you were younger did it kind of create conflict with your family?
 
Yeah, they were very because they knew I was going to church every week et cetera and, you know, I was, I was quite well behaved I think when I was younger. I wasn’t a typical teenager I think I was. You know I went to church every week and didn’t go out partying and stuff. And I think when I started to do that I think they were probably quite disappointed. I think they were a bit like, ‘Oh. Why, why is she’. Because my elder brother he went off the rails massively and I think when. I think they hoped that it wouldn’t be the same for me. And I don’t think I went off, I didn’t go off the rails but it was. I did start drinking and they weren’t pleased especially the couple of times that I would come home and be too hung over to go to church. Now I think good. They were not pleased about that.
 
But that as I’ve kind of got older and stuff and been more open and then that’s all just kind of. I think that was just a kind of typical kind of teenage difficult phase. I think it just came later with me because I hadn’t, you know, experienced it as soon as other teenagers basically. It was just that kind of difficult kind of readjusting that parents and children go through always, yeah.
 
And how did you feel at that time? Did it create sort of conflicts for you?
 
Yeah it probably did, probably in a very kind of teenage angstie sort of way that now looking back on it it wasn’t really a big deal. But at the time it was, ‘Ooohhhh, why am I falling out with my parents and all that’. But now looking back on that it was just the kind of. It wasn’t. At the time I felt quite conflicted because I wanted to go out and drink and have fun and stuff but at the same. Well it wasn’t even the drinking thing like I mean that was tied into it but it was more just wanting to go out and do what my friends were doing and doing what they were doing at the weekend.
 
Instead of just, you know, having quite a sensible life. I guess I wanted to stretch my wings a little bit I think.
 
In retrospect how kind of useful has that upbringing been?
 

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’s parents didn’t talk to her about alcohol. She says it’s difficult for parents to understand what their children’s social lives are like. This makes it hard for them to talk about drugs and alcohol in a way that’s relevant. As a teenager, she would get ‘subtle drunk’, often staying over with friends when tipsy. A couple of people said that their parents didn’t know the whole truth about their drinking, and that they’d only told them later on.
 

Emma thinks it’s important to know that your parents are there for you, if you need help.

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Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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Did your parents talk to you about alcohol when you were growing up?
 
When I was growing up? well the thing is, I think it’s very different now from growing up now than when my parents were young obviously, because you have things like the internet, social networking, mobile phones, you know, meeting up with your friends, organising things is just so much easier and so when you’re with your friends you will be together and drink and whatever so I think perhaps, and the cultures change as well there’s this teenage, there’s, going out, there’s, you know, I think it’s all been built up a bit more so I think it’s, they do talk to me about it, I mean you know alcohol has always, it’s been in the house and it’s fine, it’s not really been an issue, but I think that perhaps parents aren’t best educated about where young people are at now, and what it’s like to be a young person now, and that’s another thing that maybe could change.
 
But what did your parents say to you at that time?
 
There was never a sit down talk, “Let’s talk about alcohol.” To be honest I think there was, not naivety but just not an awareness of what a social life meant at sixteen, you’re growing up much faster and earlier than you, you know, ever have done before and maybe they didn’t understand as much, they do now I mean I’ve talked to them about it it’s fine. I shared, you know, what went on and all that, but I think at the time they weren’t aware as much of what was going on, and I don’t, I don’t know if the best thing would have been, like I don’t think saying, “Oh you can’t go out anymore.” I know it’s, you know you’re going to go to a park and drink a bottle of wine, whatever, I don’t think that necessarily would have worked it just would have caused a lot of resentment, but I think just being, instead being there for you if you need them, is what, it’s that I think is the parent’s role that’s what it needs to be.
 
As people grew up and took on more responsibility for themselves and their money, they tended to reduce their alcohol intake.
 
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.
 

Chloe’s mum never seemed to notice she was taking ecstasy even when she used it at home.

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Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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Ok so did your mum realise that you were taking ecstasy and things like that or?
 
No she never, never noticed that. I remember one time I did it for no reason. Like because to start with I would do it and then I would start cleaning my bedroom and things like that. And then after that I sort of thought, ‘No that’s a bit loose don’t do that. I’ll just do it if I’m going to a party or going to a rave or something because of the buzz that it is. You’re like you need to dance and stuff. You’re in ecstasy. So yeah. But she still never noticed. I did hide that from her.
 
Charlie thinks that her parents might have guessed she was using drugs because she worked for an organisation wanting to legalise illegal substances. Her parents didn’t question her about it, preferring instead to ignore that part of her life. Harry’s father was more ‘switched on’ about drugs than his mother and let him know he was aware of his drug taking, but didn’t do anything about it.
 
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.

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Age at interview: 22
Sex: Male
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I think people are more scared of their parents finding out or grandparents to be honest. I was more scared when my Nan found out that I was using rather than my Mum and Dad.
 
Why?
 
She hurts. She doesn’t stand. She’s very old fashioned. She doesn’t stand for any of that nonsense. And literally it doesn’t matter how big or hard you are she will cut you down in the sentence. So I think that’s. Also the fear of disappointment of letting people down that you’ve gone down this road. But the longer you go down that road the worse you’re going to feel for it. If you turn around and say, ‘Hang on I know I’ve done wrong. I’m using. I need help.’ For you to say those, that, those three sentences then you should be alright and then you can get the help you need and hopefully come out better on the other side.
 
I was concerned about what my Grandmother would think.
 
Does she know about it?
 
Yes.
 
And what was her reaction?
 
I think her exact words were, ‘Ever bring drugs into this house again and you’re out.’ Simple.
 
So do you live with your Grandmother?
 
I do yes.
 
She was quite clear about that?
 
She was very clear about it. She never, ever, ever allowed me to smoke it in the house. She never allowed me to roll it in the house, coined it up, anything like that. I could bring it on me as long as she didn’t smell it. You know I could come home stoned. That was fine. She’d look after me. I mean even now, even now I know. I know she’s not fully ok with it but even now I’m wary when I come home stoned. I try and act sober. 
Some parents had been upset or angry when they found out that their children were using illegal drugs. Parents tried different ways to stop their children, such as:
  • 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.

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Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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How did she (mother) react when she noticed that you were taking money from her purse?
 
At first I think that she was in denial. She didn’t want to believe it. And then I mean like, I don’t know, I wasn’t controllable. Like most people say, ‘Oh you’ve got to blame the parents. They need to let‘. 
 
But my mum did try, like she tried to lock me in the house' grounding me, taking things away from me, sitting down, talking with me, hitting me. Everything she tried but I don’t know it was because of the grade, because of the cannabis and because of how I was. I was just [zzzz, zzzz] in my head. It was [zzzzz] I’m going out even if I have to climb down the drainpipe, kind of thing. And I did climb down a drainpipe. And so yeah.
 
 

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.

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Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
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When you said addicted what happened to you at that point?
 
Not a great deal at first. Things went on as they were at first. It kind of came on slowly. I was taking more and more heroin. Before I knew where I was I was addicted to it and obviously then I needed that to function because of the withdrawal symptoms and what have you. So because of that you take more and it’s a vicious circle if you like. At the time I was working. I lost my job because of it because I couldn’t get up in the morning and go to work. So then I’d lost the money to get my drugs and then I had to turn to crime. I was borrowing money off my Dad all the time, 20/30 quid a day off me Dad. And so he very quickly found out about it. He didn’t kick me out. He didn’t have an argument with me or anything. He just sat me down and chatted to me and, you know, talked to me about it really and found out what the problem was which I opened up to him and everything and told him and he was very understanding but there wasn’t much he could do.
 
Your dad ok?
 
Shortly after that the farm got repossessed so we moved out of there and my father owned another property which was a few miles away. So we moved down to there and he was living in a caravan because the property was being refurbished. And I went to stay with Mother. At that point my Mother found out that I was on heroin and I did come off it cold turkey but only for about a month or two. And then I started going around with the, with my old friends again and got back on it.
 
How did your mother react when she found out?
 
She was very, very upset. She’s a very emotional person anyway so she was very upset. It really did upset her. And other than that she was quite calm, you know, she wasn’t yelling and bawling towards things. She was quite calm. She’d sit down and talk to me about it as she could but her emotions were the biggest problem. I couldn’t open up to her properly because she was too emotional. 
Some people recognised that they’d been violent or verbally abusive as teenagers. Mary Ann would become abusive and ‘smash’ the house up if she wasn’t allowed to do as she wanted. She was also expelled from school. As a teenager, Sam was only interested in using drugs and would be abusive to his parents. He said that they were scared of him because it wouldn’t take much for him to become aggressive.
 

The relationship between Sam and his parents was very strained when he was using drugs. (Played by an actor)

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Age at interview: 28
Sex: Male
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I was going home man. I would sit up in the shed and have a smoke because I didn’t want to talk to my parents like, you know. I just, I got up at. I’d leave the house and they must have wondered why I was going up the garden all the time. You know what I mean. Because at that time I hadn’t even told them I smoked. And I just completely ignored that situation. And so I’d be going up to the top of the shed like and having a smoke in the shed at night and coming back and, ‘Yeah I’m going to do my homework’. Like stumbling, grab a load of food from the kitchen and go upstairs. And my room was a state like I’d. I was losing my temper a lot back then as well. So I was smashing holes in the walls and I had a fish tank and I booted the fish tank, smashed it all over the floor and I think I smashed a guitar over it. And I’d just leave it in there and they wouldn’t come in because they were scared of what I was going to do. So it was, it was just mental and my head wasn’t in, you know,
 
So how was your relationship with your parents then?
 
Strained, very strained.
 
How were they coping with you?
 
They just didn’t, I feel my mum just ignored the fact like, you know. When I moved, just before I moved out I said to her, ‘You know I do drugs, you know, I’. I was just like screaming at her, ‘You know I do drugs’. My dad said, ‘She just ignores the fact you do drugs. She don’t want to recognise it.’ You know because… there was all sorts going on.
 
Ok but were they trying, were they able to talk to you?
 

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.  

Looking back on their teenage years, people could see how their behaviour hurt the feelings of those who loved and cared for them. Karis and Kasim described family relationships at the time they were smoking cannabis as ‘tense’. Kasim hardly spoke to his mother and Karis was hostile to hers. Tara says that her mother lived in fear of receiving a phone call telling her something bad had happened to her.
 

Now that they are older, Karis and Kasim appreciate how upsetting their hostile, angry attitude...

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Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
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How was the relationship with your family at that time when you were doing ...?
 
Karis: It wasn’t
 
Kasim' It wasn’t good at all. It wasn’t great at all because I mean…
 
Karis: Come in from school. Hi. Eat your dinner because you’ve got munchies. Eat out the fridge. You don’t really talk, yeah you don’t really talk to anyone, you know.
 
Kasim: Then you’re just out, in out, in out. As soon as I’ve got in from school I would…
 
Karis: Just eat, get changed and go straight back out.
 
Kasim: Just eat, get changed and go back out and my motive was where am I going to get a ‘draw’. How am I going to get a ‘draw’?
 
Karis: But weekly I wouldn’t see my grandmother. What it was is my gran like so, my grandmother would leave for work really early about 7'00. I wouldn’t even be up then because like I’d be up about 8 o’clock to get to school for 9'00. Wouldn’t see her in the morning and when my nan had an evening job so she’d leave for her evening job at 5'00 and I’ll be coming in at 5'00 so I wouldn’t see her weekly at all, like at all. And then when I came in from being out with my friends it would be 12 o’clock at night.
 
Kasim: So no.
 
Karis: So I wouldn’t see her throughout the week. I’d try and catch her or like she’d leave me money in the morning like on the table and stuff. And yeah that was me like, that was it. So yeah it wasn’t really a good relationship at all.
 
No communication?
 
Kasim: There was no communication, no. I think I wasn’t really worried about my family it was just my friends and when I was going to go and see my friends.
 
Karis: Friends yeah used to be with friends and what you’re going to do today.
 
And if your parents, if you’re mum or your gran wanted to talk to you and ask what you were doing, where were you?
 
Kasim: It would just be like, ‘Just stay out of my business’. Like you know, ‘It’s got nothing…
 
Karis: It would be just yeah, yeah very, very hostile sort of thing like, ‘Why do you need, like why do you need to know?’ like. I’m saying, ‘I’m fine’ yeah.
 
Kasim: Like, ‘You don’t need to tell me I’ll learn from my own mistakes and’.
 
Karis' Yeah sort of thing. It was very…
 
Kasim: But then I think if I did listen to my mum then I wouldn’t be like where I am today sort of thing, you know. Like she did, alright maybe she didn’t nag and stuff but it was tough love at the end of the day. She was only looking out for me sort of thing, you know. Like obviously I’m her son, she doesn’t want me going down that road where I’m smoking weed and stuff. But at the time when I was smoking weed and stuff it was just going in one ear and out the other. I just thought, ‘Oh you don’t know’ just whatever, ‘I’m not addicted’.
 
Yeah and then you think like, ‘Gosh’ like a change takes place now sort of thing.
 
Karis: Yeah because it’s not just you, do you know what I mean, you hurt the other people that are around you that care about you and stuff especially when you do isolate yourself and there’s no communication between your family and you’re not talking. And you know it’s not nice for the other people. I realise that now that I’m older. I realise that.
 
Kasim: Yeah I realise that as well.
Family relationships can be difficult to mend. Michelle said that she’d never had a friendly relationship with her mother but things really got worse between them when she started using drugs and drinking alcohol (see Using drugs and alcohol to escape from problems).
 

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.

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Age at interview: 26
Sex: Female
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I think I ended up, you know, doing some things I shouldn’t have done, and it was really quite sad at the, looking back at it now because our parents like, like I say we came from a nice area where this wasn’t really the normal thing to do. And we started to notice it because all the other people around the area, like they would tell our parents what they had seen us doing and, like I, I, that’s when me and my mum really went to conflict and we never really made up again after that, it was, that was like kind of the breaking point like of her being ashamed of me and me going out and saying, “I don’t care.” I just like, “I’m going to do this, I’m going to do what I want to do.” And it was, it was very difficult,
 
You said that you went on collision course with your mum at that stage. Can you tell me more about it?
 

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. 

Now, Michelle’s parents are divorced. She has a better relationship with her father than her mother and he helped looking after her baby and taught her about parental responsibility.
 

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’.

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Age at interview: 26
Sex: Female
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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.

Family conflicts weren’t always the result of teenagers’ abuse of drugs or alcohol. Steph and Leah both grew up in unsettling and tense households. Steph and her siblings were neglected by their mother, who was addicted to heroin, and were placed into care and later adopted. Adoption didn’t work for Steph though. As a teenager she went into supported housing.
 

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.

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Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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Do you want to tell me more about the, the domestic violence, the experience of that?
 
Basically it was the, the man that come into our home, I would live with my mum and I was the only child until I was five years old, and my mum met this bloke, and he started coming round, and that was when my mum’s attention went off of me and on to him because she wanted a man’s attention. Over the years he’s still, she’s still married to him now, but he doesn’t live with her they’ve broken up, but they still see each other and stuff. I left home when I was thirteen, he kicked me out and I have been in and out of my house since I was twelve to about the age of fourteen, fifteen. Staying at different friend’s houses, missing a lot of school, drinking and because of how I was brought up around my mum with, she sort of told me you need a man’s love, I’ve started when I was about fourteen I started sleeping with people. Some of them were drunken mistakes, others I just thought they actually cared about me. The bloke that come in the house it started off with just massive arguments where he would get really angry and he would be shouting and my brothers would be crying, because I’ve got three younger brothers. 
 
I used to go upstairs and just cry, and if my mum, it, the argument that him and my mum had would always relate back to me, it would always be my fault and then obviously I used to argue back with him sometimes. It wasn’t necessarily he used to hit me a lot it was the mental abuse he used to give me, he used to, because I was quite a chubby child he used to call me a fat c, u, n, t, all the time, “Dinner’s ready fatty, come and get your food.” And at that point I was, I went on a diet with Slim Fast at about thirteen, I lost a couple of stone, that’s all I was eating and drinking.
 
When I was fourteen I left home to go and live with my friend in town in a flat, I stayed there for nearly a year, well for about six months to a year, my mum started talking to me again towards the end saying, “You’ve got to come back home, you’re coming back home.” I said, “I don’t want to come back home.” Police got involved, Social Services got involved and they told me, “You’ve got to go back home.” And it got too much for my friend anyway, we were arguing so much because we were with each other every day, so I went back home. When I went back home fit, it did take, my mum was all nice to me, tried to buy me stuff, telling me she missed me, several weeks down the line and it had gone back to how it was, shouting, arguing, everybody screaming, slamming doors, just the chaotic household, that was about it really, just it went back to how it was. Then I left again, for several days, I remember once I’ve got up at four o’clock in the morning, packed my bag while they were sleeping, went out, and went to my friend’s house, I got brought back home by lunchtime by the Police. There were several times I tried to run away from home, and other times I did get told to leave and not come back. The last time I finally left home was that time I said when he had pulled my hair and stuff and I was about, I was fifteen, and I stayed at my friends’ houses, moved around for a couple of weeks, I had finished school, I had been kicked out of school, I had nowhere to go then I was running out of places to go and I didn’t want to go back home, so I went to my auntie’s and I said to her, “Look can I stay here for a couple of weeks until the Council give me somewhere, till I’m sixteen, when I’m sixteen I can get my own place.” So she said, ‘That’s fine’. So several days after my sixteenth birthday I was working as a Hairdresser Apprentice, I kept that up for ten months, so I lived with my auntie from my sixteenth birthday, just before my sixteenth birthday all the way to my seventeenth, just before my seventeenth, it was a year I’ve stayed there, I was working and everything then everything went downhill because I was a typical teenager, I didn’t really respect the house, just left stuff around, and she got to the point where she said, “You’ve got to go.” So that was when I got my Council place, I got that in June last year, I have still got it, that’s where I live now, I still go to my auntie’s at weekends to stay there for company obviously and help and stuff, I’m really close with her. The whole situation like living on my own now, I still don’t feel comfortable living on my step, by myself.
Support from parents for drug problems
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.
 
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Harry says that the whole experience brought him closer to his parents who have been very...

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I think with my parents. They’ve been unbelievably understanding. 
 
They’ve completely… not, they’ve taken the stance were even though like it’s something that I’ve done to myself and it’s not something that I don’t know like say if I had an accident or whatever like and I was sort something happened and something was inflicted on me then somehow my mum, most parents would obviously be like well they want to look after their children and they want to sort of care for them. But some parents if it’s to do with drugs and if it’s to do with self inflicted things than some parents won’t have really that same time for their children. I mean like some of my have friends that they can’t; they can’t talk to their parents in the same way that I can talk to mine. I’ve been so lucky to be able to have such understanding parents and they haven’t like come down hard on me and sort of giving me a bollocking about this and that or what are you doing like you’re a shame and things like that, they’ve understood that, that it, the drugs are everywhere and although like it’s not ideal the situation and it’s really bad, they’ve been very supportive and they‘ve just tried to help me through it.
 
So you are close to them….
 
It’s brought me closer definitely.
 
 

Daniel said that giving up drugs and alcohol has been worth it because he no longer makes his mother cry.

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How were your parents at that time? Were they supportive?
 
Well I think that if there’s one thing. If I look back on the last four and a bit years and say, and look at it and think, ‘Oh well it’s all bollocks’, you know, ‘God’s not real. You just gave up because you wanted to give up. You grew up.’ All of this stuff I’d still think it’s all been worth it for the fact that I no longer make my mother cry, all of it. Every AA meeting that I’ve been to, every. Because I used to make her cry a lot and I don’t do that anymore. And do you know how valuable that is to me? 
 
Support from siblings for drug problems
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.
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