Worried about the Health of a Parent or Carer? in Relationships

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If you're worried about the health of your parent or carer find information on where to find support.

Sometimes the health of parents or carers can affect you. Young people across Scotland worry about parents or carers who have alcohol or drug problems or who smoke. Many young people help care for parents or other family members who are unable to look after themselves.

Whether you or someone you know is worried about the health of someone in their family, we’ve put together some information for you about what help is out there for you.

Drinking alcohol: 

At least 65,000 young people in Scotland live with a parent who has an alcohol problem. Even if your parent or carer is not dependent on alcohol, they may binge drink. Binge drinking is when you drink a lot of alcohol in a short space of time. It’s estimated that 30% of young people under 16 live with at least one parent who binge drinks.

Alcohol problems in your family can make you feel scared, confused, angry, worried or sad. Being under the influence of alcohol can make people hard to live with, they can be nice one day but nasty the next.

If you’re affected by a family member’s drinking:

  • you’re not to blame – you can’t stop the person drinking and you’re not the reason why they drink. 
  • find someone to talk to, keeping secrets won’t help- you could try talking to another family member, teacher, friend, school nurse or youth worker. 
  • live your own life- try to get involved in activities in your area through school or clubs, this will help prevent you feeling alone. 

You shouldn’t be forced to take on adult responsibilities like looking after a brother/sister or your parent. If this is something that is worrying you ask for help. 

Getting help: 

There are lots of organizations out there who can help. Here are some of the main ones.

  • Carers Trust - Provides lots of information and offers support to young people 
  • ADAM Support, advice, coping strategies and links to services where you can help if you need it. 


If you are worried about your parent’s or carer’s smoking then you are not alone. A piece of research carried out in 2009 found that 65% young people surveyed were worried by their parent’s smoking.

It could be that you are worried about your parent’s health or it could be that you are worried about the effects of passive smoking (how their smoking can affect your health).

If you are worried:

  • find someone to talk to about it- it doesn’t help keeping things bottled up.
  • you could try talking to them about your worries, explaining what you are worried about and why. 
  • there are lots of different places that your parent’s or carer’s can get support for quitting smoking. 

They can get help from their GP, from or by visiting the NHS Inform website.

Other health problems: 

Smoking and drinking aren’t the only things that can make you worry about your parent’s or carer’s health. Many young people in Scotland live with parents or carers who suffer health problems or disabilities. These could be mental health problems, addiction to drugs, or illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Carers Trust provides lots of information and support for young people who look after parents or carers with health problems. On their website you can read all about different health problems and where you can get support.

More help and information: 

  • Quit Your Way Scotland call 0800 84 84 84 
  • ChildLine call 0800 1111