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by Zibusisozethu Sithole by Zibusisozethu Sithole i iris WHEN YOUR PARENTS ARE ADDIOTS Living with parents affected by alcohol and drug abuse can be dangerous, put your needs first and seek help 54 Move! l 9SEPTEMBER 2015 EING a teenager is difficult. You have to deal with ever-changing social situations, as well as physical, emotional and hormonal changes while trying to find yourself in a society that at times seems to reject you. Although your parents don't always understand you and your needs as a teenager, there are places where you can find uncon- ditional love and guidance. But this is not the case for many teenagers out there. Some strug- gle to find their feet without their parents' guidance. They are over- whelmed by their parents'addic- tion to substances such as alcohol and drugs, and have to deal with the emotional and psychologi- cal trauma of living with addicts. Family counsellor Rachel Maphu- mulo says teens should put their safety and well-being first It's easy for parents to investigate and confront their children if they suspect that they are addicts. But when children suspect their parents of being addicts, it's a completely different story. "lt might be hard to determine whether your parents are addicted to a substance or not but there are signs that could lead you to believe that if they behave differently/she says. Although confronting your parents may ruin your relationship, not doing anything about the situa- tion could make things worse. Speak to this adult about what makes you suspect that your parents are addicts and how it is affecting you. Parents are a child's primary men- tors and role models, but as you grow older and see your parents' faults, this may change. You may feel very disappointed by your their PICTURE: GALLOIMAGES / DHEAMSTIME behaviour and lose respect for them. Finding a role model or mentor to give you guidance when your parents can't will give you a chance to talk to someone about your dreams and the situation at home, with a view offinding solu- tions. Role models and mentors don't have to be rich or famous. They can be anyone who has a positive influence on you. IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU Interventions often focus on the addicts only, but children also need help as the situation can have a lasting emotional and psychologi- cal effect on a child's well-being. While you may still love and need your parents, it's best to put your- self first and look out for your own interests because your parents may not be able to do so. "Parents are there to support and guide you but you make the final decision on how you want to live. Substance abuse can lead to vary- ing degrees of character and moral decay, which could not only nega- tively affect you but also put you in danger. These are things you need to consider when deciding whether you can continue to live with your parents or if you have to live some- where else," says Rachel. GET OUT IF YOU HAVE TO Taking care of yourself may mean having to remove yourself from the situation completely, with the help of an adult you trust or a social worker. "Social workers, pastors, relatives and teachers are adults you can turn to for a solution if you feel the situation at home is no longer safe or conducive to your development. Although moving away from your parents might be difficult with ad- justments and intervention it could encourage a healthier relationship with your parents and possibly support their recovery,"she says. You can ask to be moved to a safe place. This could be with a relative, a family friend or a temporary home. GENES AND ADDICTION Although there are some genetic factors that contribute to an ad- dictive personality, having parents who are addicts doesn't mean you are going to be an addict too. As an individual, you are related to your parents and many other people, but you are responsible for your own choices. lf you ever feel that you have uncontrollable cravings for some- thing, talk to someone about your feelings and get the necessary help. "You are not an addict simply because your parents are addicts, but circumstances could make it easier for you to fall into the same trap. Drugs and alcohol are never a solution to your problems. lfyou ever feel overwhelmed or feel you are dependent on a substance, talk to an adult you trust," Rachel says. USEFUL CONTACTS I South African National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence: 011 892 3829 I South African Depression and Anxiety Group: 0800 121314 I Alcoholics Anonymous: 0861 435 722 WHAT READERS SAY 'rGllt sh_ould a teena er deal with parents w o are addicts? RACHER EDDOE RICHAEL Move out of the house or take the parents to a rehabilitation centre, otherwise that child will be a victim of abuse too. MZAMANE RINGANE lt would be difficult for the teen to confront the parents about the situation.Talking to a psychologist would help the teenager cope better. WILSON B DHLAMINI lt would be better for the child to find a safe place and be given counselling, support and love, while the parents are taken to a rehabilitation facility. MYKELJERICHO MAKMAN The best way is for that teen to live with relatives and go for counselling because living wth such parents might affect his future. WANDILEWISEMAN MTSHIZANA She needs tojoin a support group at school that tackles challenges affecting the youth, even if its once a week. M 9 SEPTEMBER 2015 l Move! 55 TEENZONE