School Life

Q: My mother is in treatment for taking methamphetamine. She exhausts me and keeps me from studying. What can I do?

A: First of all, join Nar Anon. There you will find teenagers who face similar problems. You will be able to share your feelings and make new friends. Try to get your father (or if you have no father, a professional person) to take an interest in your problem. Your father may never have realized that your mother is so demanding and noisy when you are with her that you cannot get your homework done. He may not know that, because she is a substance abuser, she has forgotten notices, meetings, and conferences with your school or has embarrassed you socially in school.

Your father may never have been aware that your mother, like so many substance abusers, may criticize whatever you do so much that she may have undermined your self-confidence and capability to do schoolwork.

You should plan to do your homework outside your home. Is there a library nearby? A friend who has a home where you could study? Could you ask to go to boarding school, or if your family can’t afford a boarding school, could you apply for a scholarship?

Q: Do all children of substance abusers have problems in school?

No. As contradictory as it may seem, many students who have drug-dependent parents, because of what they have experienced at home, are often more self-sufficient and stand up better to the challenge in school than their colleagues. Because a substance-abusing parent is a demanding parent, his son or daughter frequently turns out to be an above-average student.

Q: How can my going to a counselor or joining a self-help group make life better at home when my parent is drugging and drinking?

A: Even if your parent continues drinking or taking drugs, at least you will learn how not to let their addiction manipulate and control you. You will learn how not to be an enabler. You will see that your parent’s addiction is not your responsibility, nor need you be embarrassed by your parent’s inappropriate behavior. It is not your doing.

Very often when a drugging or drinking parent sees a child take action to recover control of his life, make plans for a future, he will often seek help himself. The important thing is that someone in the family is getting better.