Article written by Chloe Nicosia

Substance abuse is a major problem that affects not only the people who abuse drugs and alcohol but also their kids. This is particularly true for teens. A teenager whose parents have a problem with substance abuse or dependency might find themselves needing to take on the role of caretaker for themselves, their siblings, or even their parent. They may experience feelings of guilt, fearing that they are somehow the cause of their parent’s addiction. Or they might be the victims of physical or psychological abuse, which can cause feelings of insecurity, fear, and anger that linger and have a lifelong impact. But although it may be difficult, frightening, lonely, and even embarrassing to have a parent who has a problem with drug and alcohol abuse, if you’re in this situation, it’s important to seek help, both for yourself and for your parent. How can you tell if your parent or parents have a substance abuse problem? It’s important to recognize the signs to look out for and the effects that addiction can have on the addict and their loved ones.

Many problems that come with substance abuse can impact the whole family. For instance, financial issues may arise due to a parent’s need for increasing amounts of drugs or alcohol. As their addiction gets worse, it can also affect their performance on the job, which may lead to termination of their employment or the collapse of their business, hurting the whole household’s finances. Substance abuse also increases the risk of dangerous, violent, and criminal activity, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Drug and alcohol abuse is a physiological problem that causes changes in the brain, which makes recovery more difficult. The changes in the brain result in the body developing a tolerance for the substance, meaning that the addict will need more of it in order to achieve the same effect. Eventually, abuse can develop into a physical dependency, and at this point, stopping results in potentially dangerous bouts of withdrawal.

Parents who suffer from addiction-related problems often show signs that you might be able to pick up on if you know what to look for. Behavioral signs include not showing up for work, sudden financial problems, and legal troubles related to substance use. Physical signs might include sudden changes in weight or appetite, bloodshot eyes, unusual changes in pupil size, slurred speech, or even body odors. Psychological signs of substance abuse include paranoia, a sudden loss of stamina or extreme increase in energy, irrational bursts of anger, and unexplained changes in personality.

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