Parental Drug and Alcohol Problems

This section is for young people who have a parent or carer with a drug or alcohol problem. It may be something that is happening to you or to someone close to you, or it could be a subject that you just want to find out more about.

The information here will explore how this can affect young people and gives support around finding help and keeping safe.

Problem drug and alcohol use is a very difficult situation to live with in any family. It affects children, young people and their parents, and can make life at home really challenging.

In families, drug and alcohol problems tend not to be discussed, as though they were not happening. This only adds to the problem by creating secrecy and makes it very difficult for those living in the situation to seek help and support.

You may not live in the same house as the parent who is misusing drugs or alcohol but you may still be affected by it and the information here will also be of use to you.

This webpage will help you to learn more about your parent's drug or alcohol problem. It will give you information about the different ways this could be affecting your or other people in your family. The information provided will help you to understand:

  • Your right to be safe and well.
  • What problem drug and alcohol use and addiction are.
  • How your parent’s drug or alcohol use may affect you.
  • Why parents continue to use drugs and alcohol even when it is causing harm.
  • How to stay safe and look after yourself.
  • Where to go for help and support.

If you need more information check out the Finding Help section.


Parents are responsible for making sure that their children’s needs are met. It is a parent's role to keep their child safe from harm and to support their child so they can reach their full potential.

When parents are involved in harmful drug or alcohol use, it means that they can become distracted from the job of parenting and the needs of their children. This has the potential to negatively affect or harm those living in the family.

Your Rights

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (which Ireland signed up to in 1992) provides many rights to all children and young people. You have the right:

  • To be protected and live free from violence, abuse or harm.
  • To be brought up by your parents in your family, unless it is not in your interests.
  • To express your views and to have them taken into account in matters affecting you.
  • To have decisions affecting you made in your best interest.
  • To be treated with dignity and respect.
  • To be free from discrimination. 

You are not responsible for your parents’ drinking or drug use.

It is not your fault.

Barnardos National Office,
Christchurch Square, Dublin 8

Tel: +353 (0) 1 453 0355 / Callsave: 1850 222 300
Fax: +353 (0) 1 453 0300 / Email: