Surviving Substance Use

43% of Americans have experienced negative interactions because of alcohol use by someone (usually an adult/parent) in their families. This number increases to around 50% when we include all substances.

Substance use can have a significant impact on the quality of a family’s communication. Substance use becomes a secret to the outside world, and members do whatever they can to minimize, deny, and cover up the chaotic process happening in their home.

Dynamics in families with substance use tend to be unpredictable. The rules and coinciding expectations change from day to day. Sometimes parents are strict, angry, and overprotective; other times, they seem aloof and distant.

When a parent uses substances, his/her behaviors become extreme, clingy, and/or aggressive. When a parent is sober, anxiety still hangs around, waiting for relapse, the next cycle of erratic behaviors. Not surprisingly, children in substance using families are at risk for attention deficiencies, anger management issues, and other forms of anxiety and self-esteem issues.


These childhood anxieties carry over into adulthood. Almost half of adults with substance-using parents develop their own problems with alcohol and other substances. Perhaps you recognize some of these traits, thought processes, and interaction cycles in your own life:

  • Judging and blaming yourself
  • Difficulties with intimate relationships
  • Overreacting to things you have no control over
  • Constantly seeking approval and affirmation from others
  • Extreme levels of responsibility/irresponsibility

You have the ability to break the family cycle not just of substance use, but of the negative communication patterns that form because of it.

Surviving Substance Use is a long-term support group for adult men and women who grew up in homes with substance-using parents. Group therapy provides participants with the opportunity to share with, connect with, and learn from others in similar situations.

Surviving Substance Use is not associated with the 12-step program, but rather uses experiential, in-the-moment conversations and processes to teach and improve social skills, increase self-confidence, and reduce anxiety. Participants will learn how to:

  • Improve communication skills through the interactivity of the group
  • Increase trust in other people
  • Remove criticism of self (and the assumption that others are judging you)
  • Set boundaries with substance-using family members without guilt or shame
  • Set boundaries with your own role in your family of origin

Surviving Substance Use will meet on Wednesday evenings from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm beginning September 9. It will meet in suite 205 at our office (1212 Hancock St., Quincy Center). Sessions are $50; insurance will not cover this specific group. Ideally, this group will have between six and eight individuals.

Jeremiah Gibson, the facilitator of the group, will conduct 45-minute long interviews for potential group members during the month of August. Jeremiah will be working with a co-therapist throughout the course of the group. Please email him if you are interested in scheduling an interview or learning more about Surviving Substance Use.