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Trying to understand addiction

Growing up with the stress and stigma of a parent's substance use can leave you with many questions. Since information on addiction can be super confusing, we're here to share what we've learned to help you make sense of it all.

What helped us make sense of it

Image by Aedrian Salazar
Learning that it wasn’t my fault, which seems so obvious now, but it's not obvious when your spiralling in grief and anger. Also knowing that it wasn’t their choice to develop an addiction, as much as I hated it.

Peer, Vancouver, Canada

What helped my peers

Why an addiction?

An addiction is complicated and isn’t caused by just one thing. Sometimes, the way people talk about it, the news, and even our own experiences might make us believe that it's our parents' fault, our fault, or "in our genes", but that’s not true.
Common questions
Quick links

Quick facts about addictions

Why can't they just stop?

What can help my parent?

What peers in the same situation said helped them to understand

Why do people use drugs, like alcohol, anyways??!

Some quick facts: It's not your fault, and....

An addiction (often called a substance use disorder) is a health condition, even though lots of people think it is a choice. It is diagnosed when substance use leads to health issues or challenges at home, school, or work. However, many people
do not get "diagnosed".

1 in 5

people in Canada have an addiction (sometimes called a substance use disorder), which means it is really common.

People can have an addiction to many different things, not just drugs like alcohol. Many people are addicted to electronics, food, and shopping for example. 

Stress and childhood trauma often plays a role in addictions, AND,  stress or trauma is never an excuse  for harmful behaviours towards people. However, learning about them can help you understand why a parent might keep using even when it causes harm in the home.

Kids Meet A Kid in Recovery From Addiction | Kids Meet | HiHo Kids

Kids Meet A Kid in Recovery From Addiction | Kids Meet | HiHo Kids

Sponsor this series: Come play with us! Sign up at to get updates on HiHo, special offers, and exclusive behind-the-scenes content with your favorite kids. Learn more about Talietian's high school here: SUBSCRIBE: Watch More Kids Meet: About Kids Meet: Curious kids meet--and interview--people with particular points of view. Don't forget to subscribe and follow us! Official Site: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Snapchat: @watchcut Cut Swag: About Cut: Small questions have powerful effects when they go viral. Cut spreads stories for fun, for serious, and for real– bringing the internet together one awkward moment at a time. Produced, directed, and edited by Want to work with us? Want to be in a video? Want to sponsor a video? For licensing inquiries: Divertissement Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 A Kid in Recovery From Addiction | Kids Meet | HiHo Kids Cut

Videos we think are good at explaining  addictions.

Why do people use drugs?

Some of us might have had a tough time because of a parent's drug use, leaving us to wonder, "why do people use drugs anyway?" 

People use drugs for many reasons, like coping with pain, ceremonies, or celebrating. 

Double click the shapes to learn about the different ways people use substances.

Regular use

What can help my parent (or me if I am having challenges with my substance use)?

Many of us have just wished that our parent can just stop using drugs like alcohol, but every parent has different needs. Even though the tv shows, doctors, and even people who have had addictions before can make it seem like it is easy for everyone to just stop using, it is actually really hard. But there are things that can help your parent use in safer ways, use less, or stop use (if they are able and want to).  Click the rectangles to learn more:

Some things that have helped us

Image by Aedrian Salazar
Realizing that how she treats me and talks to me is a projection of her own trauma, not a reflection of my worth as a person.

Peer, Canada

What helped my peers