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Does your mom or dad drink too much?

They might be alcoholics, and if they are, they have a disease which compels them to drink even though it harms them (and likely you) and without treatment, they are unlikely to stop.

There are an estimated 8 million alcoholics in the US, many millions more with alcohol abuse problems and tens of millions of children and teens growing up in households affected by alcohol.

If you think your mom or dad drinks too much, but you're not sure if they're an alcoholic or not, take this quick quiz, answer honestly, and find out.

Children of Alcoholics Screening Test (CAST)1

  • Have you ever thought that one of your parents had a drinking problem?
  • Have you ever lost sleep because of a parent's drinking?
  • Did you ever encourage one of your parents to quit drinking?
  • Did you ever feel alone, scared, nervous, angry or frustrated because a parent was not able to stop drinking?
  • Did you ever argue or fight was a parent when he or she was drinking?
  • Did you ever threaten to run away from home because of a parent's drinking?
  • Has a parent ever yelled at or hit you or other family members when drinking?
  • Have you ever heard your parents fight when one of them was drunk?
  • Did you ever protect another family member from a parent who was drinking?
  • Did you ever feel like hiding or emptying a parent's bottle of liquor?
  • Do many of your thoughts revolve around a problem drinking parent or difficulties that arise because of his or her drinking?
  • Did you ever wish that a parent would stop drinking?
  • Did you ever feel responsible for or guilty about a parent's drinking?
  • Did you ever fear that your parents would get divorced due to alcohol misuse?
  • Have you ever withdrawn from and avoided outside activities and friends because of embarrassment and shame over a parent's drinking problem?
  • Did you ever feel caught in the middle of an argument or fight between a problem drinking parent and your other parent?
  • Did you ever feel that you made a parent drink alcohol?
  • Have you ever that a problem drinking parent did not really love you?
  • Did you ever resent a parent's drinking?
  • Have you ever worried about a parent's health because of his or her alcohol use?
  • Have you ever been blamed for a parent's drinking?
  • Did you ever think your father was an alcoholic?
  • Did you ever wish you home could be more like the homes of your friends who did not have a parent with a drinking problem?
  • Did a parent ever make promises to you that he or she did not keep because of drinking?
  • Did you ever think your mother was an alcoholic?
  • Did you ever wish that you could talk to someone who could understand and help the alcohol-related problems in your family?
  • Did you ever fight with your brothers and sisters about a parent's drinking?
  • Did you ever stay away from home to avoid the drinking parent or your other parent's reaction to the drinking?
  • Have you ever felt sick, cried, or had a "knot" in your stomach after worrying about a parent's drinking?
  • Did you ever take over any chores and duties at home that were usually done by a parent before he or she developed a drinking problem?
  • 0-1 "yes" answers means that your parent is likely not an alcoholic.
  • 2-5 "yes" answers means that your mom or dad might be an alcoholic
  • 6 or more "yes" answers means that your mom or dad is probably an alcoholic.

This test, developed by two social workers, has been heavily tested and widely used - and found very accurate in the diagnosis of alcohol problems in the family.

If, after taking this test your score indicates that your mom or dad is an alcoholic:

  1. Know that they have a disease
  2. Know that it's OK to talk about it with anyone you trust
  3. Know that you didn’t cause the problem, and even though you may feel that you "make them drink" they would drink no matter what you do.
  4. Know that you cannot cure their disease, they must cure their disease.
  5. Know that millions of teens grow up in homes with one or more alcoholic parents, and that teen support groups such as ALATEEN, can help.
  6. Know that if one or more parents has a problem with alcohol, you run a risk of having a problem with alcohol – but that if you don’t drink, you will never experience any alcohol related difficulties. You will need to be careful!

There are no easy answers – no quick cures. A lot of teens feel shame over the actions of an alcoholic parent, and instead of talking about their feelings - getting some support - they cover-up for the behaviors of a drunk parent and strive always to maintain the "family secret".

You don’t have to get through this alone, and whether or not your mom or dad is ready to admit to a problem, you know there's a problem, your feelings are valid and important, and you need support too. Never keep it a secret; never keep it all inside. Talk to trusted friends, a trusted teacher or counselor, or to anyone else who you feel comfortable confiding in.

Talking it out helps and it can ensure that although you may grow up in tough circumstances, you grow up healthy and strong.

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Page last updated Aug 21, 2013

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