I’m thirteen, and I’m aware that a few people have asked similar questions, but my ten year old sister is aware of this problem and I don’t know what to tell her.
My parents are not fond of each other, my mom doesn’t make enough money to take care of herself, and she doesn’t want to get a divorce for that reason. They were fighting one day, when my mom mentioned that all my father cares about is his alcohol and his drugs. I knew he drank whiskey every now and then to help his insomnia, but I didn’t believe that he was doing drugs.

I was walking upstairs into the kitchen one morning before school to find my dad lighting something in front of his face, but when he saw me, he quickly threw it in the trash can. I didn’t want to believe he was doing drugs, nor did I want my sister to find out, which she did last night. She’s only ten, and she loves her father. She’s now very lost and heartbroken to find out that our father is on drugs. She found weed in the sunroom today.

This is the reason why my father doesn’t want to get a divorce. My mother will use this against him.
To go more into depth with how life is with my parents, my mom is physically abusive, but my dad stops her from laying a hand on me. My dad has abused me a few times too. He goes insane sometimes, and I have been depressed and I felt suicidal before.

What do I tell my sister now that she knows about it? Who do I go to? Who to I tell? Who should I keep this from? Should I confront my father?

A: Your letter shows you to be an unusually mature teen. I’m very, very sorry that life is so difficult for you right now. To answer a few of your questions: Since your sister already knows the truth, acknowledge to her that your family is having problems and tell her that you are there for her as best you can be. I don’t suggest you “confront” your father. Since he goes “insane” sometimes, it might not be advisable to talk to him about your worries. Instead, please consider talking with your school guidance counselor about how to get some help for you and your family.

Another resource for you is Alateen. Alateen is an organization especially for young people whose lives are being affected by someone else’s drinking or drug use. I copied this from their website:

In Alateen, younger people come together to:

  • share experiences, strength, and hope with each other
  • discuss their difficulties
  • learn effective ways to cope with their problems
  • encourage one another

Your city has several Alateen meetings each week. I hope one is near you. Check out this link for more information.

Another resource for you is the hotline at Boys Town: (800) 448-3000. Counselors are there 24/7 to talk to teens like you who are feeling depressed or suicidal or who just want someone to talk to confidentially about their problems. Don’t be put off by the name. They talk to girls too.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie