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Chemical Dependency and the Dysfunctional Family

IntroductionDysfunctional Families, Teens And DrugsHelp Is Out There

T his is so typical,” Shaneen Rand says, eyeing the mess as she enters the house. Her stepbrothers, ten-year-old Jesse and six-year- old Mikey, are glued to the television.

“Hey, Shaneen,” Jesse says, “what's for dinner?”

“How should I know?” Shaneen answers. “Do I look like Mom?”

“No, but Mikey and I are hungry.”

“Where's Mom?” Shaneen asks nervously.

“We don't know,” Jesse says. “She was leaving right when we got home.”

Shaneen looks at the clock. It's almost 7:30. Her stepbrothers have been home alone for more than four hours, with no dinner.

Shaneen is frustrated. If she doesn't pass her algebra test tomorrow, she could fail math. Her grades have been slipping, but she is trying to get back on track. It's not easy, though. She doesn't get much support at home. Her mom is hardly ever around, and when she is, she's either drunk or hungover and very crabby.

Shaneen has learned to stay out of her mom's way. Shaneen's dad, who moved out a year ago, is always busy with his new wife. Jesse and Mikey are too young to help and most of the time Shaneen finds herself having to take care of them.

Shaneen is overwhelmed by all of her respon sibilities. After all, she's only fifteen. She calls her friend Jayna to talk.

“I know just what you need,” Jayna says. “I'll pick you up at ten o'clock.”

After Shaneen heats up some frozen pizza for her stepbrothers and then puts them to bed, she heads for the park with Jayna. Jayna pulls out some beer and hands a can to Shaneen, who pops it open, takes a big swallow, and closes her eyes to try to shut out the night sky— and the problems that come with living in her dysfunctional family.

Ray Coban hasn't left his room all week end. On Monday afternoon, the housekeeper, Mrs. Stanley, knocks on his door.

“I'm taking Sara to a movie. Would you like to come?” she asks.

“No,” Ray answers.

“Did you do your homework?”

“You're not my mom. Why do you care?” Ray asks angrily.

“Ray, I'm here to take care of you and Sara until your parents get back next week.”

Ray feels as though his parents are never around. They're always either away on busi ness or off on some fancy vacation. It doesn't seem fair that he and Sara have to stay home with Mrs. Stanley all the time.

When Mrs. Stanley and Sara leave, Ray feels around under his mattress until he finds what he is looking for: his stash of cocaine. He does a line and then lies back in bed.

Help Is Out There

There are many sources of help for teens who are chemically dependent because of family dysfunction. If you are dealing with these problems yourself, you are not only in good company, but you have already taken a very important first step toward recovery by opening this book.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaChemical Dependency and the Dysfunctional Family