The term “hidden harm” is often used to describe the impact of a parent or carers alcohol or other substance use on children and young people. We call it “hidden” because the impacts and issues that problematic substance use can have on children and young people often remains hidden from view.
It is estimated that approximately 1 in 11 young people in Northern Ireland have a parent who misuses substances, which equates to about 40,000 young people across Northern Ireland who are affected by a parents substance use.
Not all family members are affected in the same way, and no two family experiences are the same. However what is clear is that most family members could benefit from support.
Problem drug or alcohol use can affect children in a wide range of ways, however below are some of the most common impacts:
The most important things to remember are that you are not alone and you are not to blame.
Right now you may feel angry, embarrassed, guilty, or a number of different emotions. These feelings are completely normal. But you did not cause your loved one to use substances, and you are not alone in feeling like this.
It is ok to love the person who is using alcohol or drugs, and still not like what they are doing. You can’t stop them, but you can take care of yourself. It is Ok to ask for support and help, and there are lots of ways that you can find support regardless of if your loved one is ready to get help or not.
You can download iself-help resources or see a list of our helping services by clicking the links on the left here. Alternatively, call us on 08002545123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will link you to the most appropriate local service to you.