My family in chains; My parents affair with heroin.

NOTE: get the book called Children of the Drug War, Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Policies on Young People.Children of the Drug War, Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Policies on Young People. The book lists the stories of children right across the spectrum of the war on drugs and how they are affected. Edited by Damon Barrett. Free in PDF

The article below was published in Issue 13 of Black Poppy


My family in chains;  My parents affair with heroin.

OR:  My parents, my brother, me and drugs.


My name is Alice. I’m an 11 year old girl. My parents have an addiction problem, an addiction with drugs. Let me tell you about it.

When I was about 4 or 5 I could remember my parents taking medicine but i didnt know what it was. I thought it was normal medicine but I knew that I wasnt allowed to take it , it was only for adults. When i thought about the medicine, the way I felt depended, when i was like 4 or 5 I didnt mind but as I got got to 8,9,10, it started worrying me. Now i know what it is im ok but it does make me worry sometimes – it still worries me.  It could kill my parents – like if they died what would happen to me.?

I saw them drinking green liquid. Its always stayed the same. They want to change their lives – they want to stop and they try but they cant. Its an addiction and thats why  they cant stop. I hope they will stop. I know it dosent happen overnight so I dont expect it to just stop like that, I know it takes time. My mum and dad have talked to me about it – and i take it in but its hard. I dont know anybody with parents like mine, itd be better if i could talk to children like myself, in the same situation.  I dont like to tell my friends, im embarrassed about it. The thought of it. They just wouldnt understand. Its nothing like what they say on the telly in real life. TV gives children the idea that drugs are bad and dont take them – that you are going to die straight away if you take them, but they are bad – but i know the truth about them. That its not your fault if your addicted to them but you have to try and stop. The telly makes it look like its your fault.It is your fault for trying them but still.

It makes me go into a mix of feelings when they take drugs – the way they act. They go sleepy, they fall down and they dont really look after me properly when they do that, I have to look after myself. Theres been loads of hard times, but theres no one worse than the other, they are all as bad as each other. If I could, I d say to them,, just try and stop, just try.

My parents started taking drugs before i was born. There was a period when my mum went to rehab for 6 months, and was clean for a year and a half. But then we moved to a new house and she started again. She got into a lot of trouble with drugs – she burgled the house upstairs just to get money for them and went to holloway prison for 3 ½ months.  When she came out – she said ‘Im going to stop for you and only for you’ but that still hasnt happened yet. She locks her door of her room when she takes drugs and when I knock she just says 5 minutes and shes in her room for about an hour. Shes fine when she comes out. She feels guilty about taking them but….she knows I know about them so that takes her mind of it.

Ive decided that when Im older Im not going to smoke, drink or take drugs because as both my parents are addicted I have an addictive gene.

There are a couple of kids at my school that smoke and ive been offered one myself but i refused. These days children of my age think its cool to smoke and drink and take drugs. But once they get addicted lifes never the same. Ive grown up all my life with drugs around me so Ive seen and know the experiences. Theres never been a good bit with drugs in my life. Sometimes I wish why was i born with the parents i have today but when i think about this, i know that im happy with my parents because even if i was asked which type of parents Id choose – non addicted or addicted – Id choose the parents I have today.  The telly gives an impression that the family should be a housewife, a working husbabnd and 2 good behaved children but my family is different. Its my unemployed dad, my unemployed mum, my half brother, me and the drug problem. The drugs are another person in my family but we are not related. But the drugs are a part of my parents identity. For all the parents that have addiction problems and are reading this, think about what Ive said and talk to your children and if you think this is suitable, let your children read my article and they might understand where Im coming from.

Im coming to an end but before i end this im going to tell you a story. When i was 4 ½ I decided to find out what my parents medicine really was. I didnt take it, but I took it down from the shelf. My dad woke up. He thought id taken it. He asked me wheres his medicine – have you taken it? I said ‘No’, I want to see what it was – and I was only looking after it for you’..The reason I didnt take it is beacause ive grown up knowing not to all children know not to take medicine apart from when there parents give it to them if i had taken it there would be a different ending to the story to it i could have died when im older i have a dream either to become a actress,singer ,a graphicdesigner but never an addict well folks Thats my story. My parents do care about me. Just in a different way.

The End


NOTE: The book, (not Alice’s story) Children of the Drug War’ is a unique collection of original essays that investigates the impacts of the war on drugs on children, young people and their families. With contributions from around the world, providing different perspectives and utilizing a wide range of styles and approaches including ethnographic studies, personal accounts and interviews, the book asks fundamental questions of national and international drug control systems:

  • What have been the costs to children and young people of the war on drugs?
  • Is the protection of children from drugs a solid justification for current policies?
  • What kinds of public fears and preconceptions exist in relation to drugs and the drug trade?
  • How can children and young people be placed at the forefront of drug policies?


Leave a comment


  1. Yeah, I grew up with a gambling Father. Trust me it was worse! My Mum nearly killed him once and my brother and me had to stop our dad from being killed by our Mum’s rage

    • Just wanted to say it isnt helpful saying one is worse than the other. This child wrote this story, still protecting her parents after all these years despite the incredible hurdles she had been through. She had been through an incredibly difficult time, for most of her life, with both her parents affected, both always struggling to look after her, trying to hide that fact from authorities to prevent her going into care…Its a deeply complex area and i guess because I know this little girl, to hear someone say, their situation was worse -I find hard to digest. I appreciate your honesty, so I hope you can appreciate hers and perhaps read between the lines to hear her voice in there.

  2. Beckworth

     /  November 6, 2013

    I also grew up in a home with parents who were intravenous drug users. Not all that odd, but I am now in my 30’s and have been on a methadone program for years and am what I now consider to be pseudo clean. The apple does not fall from the tree. I am also coming off methadone. Now, there is a lot to fill in between the beginning of my story and the place I am now.
    At school growing up I would have so much anxiety all day I would constantly feel like I was going to throw up. I would get mental pictures of finding my parents dead because they nodded off and never woke up. There have been close calls. Finding my mother convulsing because she took too many pills. Coming home and finding needles on the floor because my stepdad would get so obliterated he would nod and wonder around dropping things.
    The constant fear of my school friends finding out. And they knew, well the peoplee close to me knew but I never admitted my parents faults. I was embarrassed. Just wished for a normal life, normal worries. Soon after the age of 13, my life also began to crumble the same way theirs did.
    Then came living on the streets, doing drugs, eventually also a needle user. My life went down fast.
    Now close to ten years after, I have finished school, I have a decent job. I have not touched a needle in 8 years. I am still battling it every day. So sorry to know someone else is living this too. I love my parents, they are now sort of clean too. They are on a methadone program and living productive lives. I am not longer in fear that they will die of this disease. I do know that it is always waiting around the corner. Please be careful. I wish you well.


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