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You are not bad for loving your parent who uses substances

Updated: Mar 20

I remember being in grades 7-8, about 13-14 years old, and my teacher was starting our health curriculum that covered substance use.

The entire class was shown photos of “before and after” substance use challenges with diaristic changes in the individuals that painted a horrible picture of people who use substances to cope with life. Of course, they didn't discuss any of the underlying experiences or health conditions that could affect the person's mental health or substance use and I recall my teacher sharing that "using substances is a choice you make, and it is a choice to continue using or not."

Although I can't remember the exact words used, my teacher shared the perspective to our young minds that substance users are bad.

I felt so much shame and guilt. 

As a child impacted by parental substance use sitting in that classroom listening to someone who is supposed to be educating me and the class on these experiences, I felt so much shame and guilt. It was brutal sitting in the classroom hearing that my parents are bad people for using substances, something the world keeps trying to tell us, and I don’t wish that feeling upon anyone. I love my parent, I shouldn't be made to feel that I should hate them, or feel ashamed that I love them.

The back of a daughter and mother with arms around each other

If you are a child of substance users and have experienced something similar to this I give you the biggest virtual hug possible. My heart hurts for the way children are impacted by the assumptions of the world. Your parents are not bad people for using drugs. They may need support, and you might need it too, and you and your parents deserve so much more than those assumptions and judgements.

And you’re not bad for loving, supporting, and working on your relationship with your parent. You and your parent(s) deserve to have the support available to reach your independent and family unit goals, whatever they may be and however long it takes.

In solidarity, your peer Kloey, and our community of peers at Starlings


Kloey is a Starlings Peer Member, contributing her story to our stories of hope and healing. If you are 18+ and would like to share your story of hope and healing with peers, please email us at .




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