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Readers Respond: How Do You Feel Growing Up With an Alcoholic Parent Has Changed You?

Responses: 605


Updated October 09, 2014

Adult children of alcoholics are people who grew up in a home with at least one alcoholic parent and whose lives were likely profoundly affected by the experience. If you grew up in an alcoholic home, share how you think it affected you most. The discussion below has been closed, please use this form to share your experience, or join the discussion in the Alcoholism Forum.

Letter to my dad I can't send.

There's so many things I want you to know. Things you have done, that you don't even remember. Scars no one can see. I know you too have the same scars. My first memory of you was my first scar. Seeing you being taken away in cuffs and my mother's bloody face. Fast forward to 11 years old: Mom left you fot the final time. You drank an average of a fifth a day, along with other illegal drugs. You finished the mezcal and passed out on your back, snoring loudly. Typical. But dead silence for a second when your mouth filled with vomit and you began choking. Without thinking, I turne you on your side, slapped your back. You cough up and vomit the rest and continue to sleep. I stayed up the rest of the night and watched you sleep. I made sure you got up for work on time before I left for school. I had to make sure the bills were paid and I had grocery money every payday or you would've blown your pay on drugs and I would've starved in the darkness. Mom tried to call and tried to take me. But if I left you right then, you would've died. I wasn't ready to lose you too.
—Guest Tonya

The sad drunk

It's only now that my marriage is failing and I have a baby girl that I recognize how much my mother's drinking affected me. When mum and dad were together they would drink and have a good time, we would dance around the house listening to records and laugh. But by the age of 14 something changed , mum and dad started arguing a lot. Dad would come home late from work and mum would drink my herself. She would get drunk and sit in a dark room listing to sad songs over and over again. I hated coming home, I knew she would be sad and drunk. After they separated I lived with mum, my sister moved out and dad moved away. I didn't have any contact from him and it was just me and the sad drunk. I could never tell her how I was feeling about the family break up because she would just get drinker and sadder. As I grew into an adult I moved away got a really good job and little by little I disconnected my self from her, but stayed in contact. My problem is I feel that I have to always be happy.
—Guest The light

Sick of this

I'm 13 years old, and i have a dad who's been drinking since college and still is. My mom thinks that he will change but honestly he just keeps getting worse, he spends a lot of money on just his cigarettes and drinks. Every night he comes home and drinks, to be honest I doubt he even knows which class I'm in. currently my mom's out of town so I'm stuck with him for 3 weeks. so far he hasn't done anything just sit around and drink and watch porn (i checked history). He has slapped my mom in front of my friends which is the main reason they don't come home. We don't even talk. I envy my friend's parents no matter how strict at least they're there for their kids. I want my mom to leave him, but she has no family as she's the only child and her parents died and she's only sticking around for me . I even know that my dad has a girlfriend and has cheated on my mom multiple times. I'm just gonna study well, go to college and get a good job all for my mom and nobody else .
—Guest Grace

13 going on 30

My mom used to tease me that I was 13 going on 30. That I was selfish. That no one loved her. I realized hurting myself to get her attention wasn't worth it. She was never going to take care of me. Have been independent, confident, strong willed, rebellious but responsible for as long as I can remember. I gave up taking care of her and instead overachieved. I loved school, the structure, the rules, the stable role models. I'm quite happy in my adult life now but see effects her alcoholism has left on me. I feel like I found my tribe reading other's experiences. Always felt off, like I was walking the wrong way through a crowd. Afraid to have kids. Raised 3 younger siblings. Let my unexpressed teenage self shine through every now and then, I call this my 30 going on 13 phase, but responsibly with a full time career, wonderful husband and all the bills still paid. I feel guilty but justified.
—Guest Linda

My Father is NOT My Hero Anymore

My Father Used to be a Guy What Every MAN aspires to be. He used to have a good occupation, friends loved him, everybody used to seek counsel from him when in need, such a stand up Guy , "MY HERO", screwed himself to a point where his total body functions messed up, lose his friends, became Jobless, lost his respect among relatives, cant even recognise or greet a person when spoken to, even though I made him to undergo rehab and then A&A program regularly for 10 months accompanied by me, he just relapsed and turned out to be more uncooperative and hopeless. Even got abusive, made an bike accident under alcohol influence and turned a 8 year old boy handicapped and himself broke a finger. He driven me to such a state I slapped him thrice at one time all the while I am crying for the Man who is gone now. I am not sure what is with us now. It is definitely not Father. I am 24 Now, and its been 8 Months I last spoken to him and he is in the next room to Mine.
—Guest Yuva Kishore

I dont know what to do

My dad wasnt always an alcoholic, or at least i didnt think so. Maybe when i was younger he always was but i just never really fully understood the actions of an alcoholic until now. I am 16 and my dad comes home every night and drinks around 5 bottles of beer and he throws dishes around, yells, throws anger temper tantrums at my mom, and he keep drinking. It hurts my mom the most because she is trying to stay with him for my brother and I. At this point i want her to divorce him. The thought of an alcoholic dad embarrasses me and my brothers 12 so he doesn't quite understand what an alcoholic means. I want this to end, i want my dad out of my life until he gets his crap together.
—Guest Peter don

Reflecting on the past

My dad was an alcoholic the day I was born. He stopped drinking when I was at the age of 12. I'm now 17 and my mom lives everyday like nothing ever happened. My brother (21) became so fed up that he left the house. My dad physically and verbally abused me till I was the age of 12. I was hit, whipped with belts, pushed around, neglected, and degraded verbally. I'd come home from school and sneak into my room hoping he wouldn't see me. I listened to my parents fight every night. I watched my dad smash through a door that my mom cowered behind. Its five years later. My parents live happily ever after. They've never talked about it since. I wake up in cold sweats every week from nightmares about my dad. I look into his face every day and all I see is the person who's hurt me the most, but he provides for me, so everyone expected to worship him. My childhood haunts me to this day. He's never apologized to me.
—Guest Alex

Don't Know What To Do

My dad has gone back to alcoholism after being clean for 2.5 years. Now he never leaves the couch, and when he does he throws up, falls over, or is annoying and in me or my brother's face. Today we had to take the bus to the mall because he drank when he knew we had plans today and needed a ride. He didn't put the groceries away from yesterday and now the house smells like seafood. He always threatens to take my food for no apparent reason and everything is my brother or my fault. He has promised to stop several times but hasn't.
—Guest Sabrina

My dad is an alcoholic

Hi. I was scrolling and found this website, so.. why not? Well, for starters, my dad has been a heavy alcoholic since I was just a few years old. Now, I'm 14, and my parents are divorced due to it. My parents divorced when I was 11. My dad would verbally abuse us, and hit my mom. He said awful things.. I just can't get over them. Now, my mom is out of money. We live with my great grandma and it sucks. I go to my dad's sometimes, sometimes I HAVE to. He gets drunk every night, and starts drinking early. He'll tell me I'm mindless and have a deathly mental illness, And I'm going to grow up poor and etc etc. I already have an awfully low self esteem so this doesn't help. The sad thing is, his mother doesn't believe me. Once I caved in and called the police. My grandparents were furious. Twice I have gotten so mad to the point I slapped him. My grandma was furious once again. She doesn't believe me. He can say all these things to me, but if I say one small thing it's all on me.
—Guest Guest

It's the worst it's been

6 years ago my father died of cancer, my mother was broken, she couldnt function without her pain killers. she was addicted to them for two years then finally got a hold of herself. she ended up meeting someone else and eloping. they moved my sister and i to a different town and they divorced. i started doing drugs and contemplating suicide every night, i never told any one, i had no friends or family that i could talk to. my sister moved to a different state and i was left with my mom, as she started drinking heavily every night. she found someone 1,000 miles away and moved me here with her 8 months ago. hes an alcoholic too, and they beat each other up every night. when i wake up its like nothing ever happened and its tearing me apart. im worse than ever been. depressed, underweight, suicidal, and forgotten. shes better than this, she doesnt know. and my boyfriend of 4 years, they hate him, i havent seen him in six months. im hurting and wont care. ive been keeping everything a secret
—Guest sydney

Bad parents

I have been trying to deal with my life ever since I was 6. My mom and father were the best until they divorced when I was 6. After that my mother started drinking a lot and partying leaving me with my grandparents. Then she became an alcoholic. My dad moved off after the divorce and changed, he never saw me but once every 2 years. After awhile he was bad himself and cared about no one but himself. I didnt see him no more after I had enough of his bullshit. All the while my mother drank herself silly and worsened after her father died. She started doing drugs and was an alcoholic. I didnt know what to do. She was my only family. I had no friends, no partner. I was alone. The only person who was there for me was Jesus Christ. And he said to me that he would make my life the best life I could ask for when I was 14. Since then I love my life...havent had to even see my parents if I didnt want to. For the most part, I didnt.
—Guest dontwannakno

Ready to get away.

Since I was eight, or possibly earlier, my mother has been compulsively drinking. My dad has told me several times that he'll make her stop, and that he shouldn't have married her, but he has never taken any action to protect me. She has hit me several times, and the lock on my bedroom door is broken from her screaming and breaking it open so often. I'm sixteen now, and I've suffered from eating disorders, self harm, and diagnosed OCD for years. I've been sneaking out since I was 14 to partake in self destructive behaviors. I am ashamed. The laundry list describes me perfectly. I love my boyfriend with all of my heart, but I fear that I am attracted to his brokenness. Reading that part of this article really shocked me. I never thought I would confuse love and pity. I hide my relationship from my parents, and I have issues with intimacy and feeling joy. These are characteristics that will follow me relentlessly for the rest of my life. I am now seeking help.
—Guest Anon

My father the bastard

My father is an alcoholic, he emotionally abused me throughout my teen years. when he was drunk he would cuss us out and say mean things. It was confusing because the person he was at night was totally different than how he was in the morning. It was defently a emotional roller coaster. You never knew when he was going to be persentable or when he wasn't. I feel throughout my teen years calling me awful names on school nights made my self Esteam drop low the next day. On a positive note because of the emotinal scars he left on me I don't drink. I stay away from all alcohol because of his abusive behavior. He ruined my family and my teen years. And I never want to be like him.
—Guest Guest name

Too much

I'm 20 years old and I live with my parents. We are a family of 5 consisting Father, Mother , 2 Elder sisters and me the youngest. I have an alcoholic father who drinks and smokes (Wacky things too) every day and night. Broken so many things at home that we lost count. Just yesterday night he had started to scream out loud as a drunk person would but swear while screaming. Mind you he had been in jail for 8 years even though he got sentence for 5.4 years but did extra till 8 years for no reason at all. I am STILL growing as a human being and having troubles with my daily life. It's Horrible. He's mentally disturbed us so much that we don't even want to be near him any more. When we're not near him or talking to him he'll say no one loves him. Well can you blame us for the Drunk and High outrages you throw at us and break things in the house that we'd have to pay for at the end of the day, EVEN THE BOOZE we'd have to pay for and not even have barely any money to pay for necessities.
—Guest Guest Anon8


Im 17 and I grew up with an alcoholic father. Hes hit me before but it was not a usual thing. He drank himself to sleep every night with a bottle of Nyquil. He abused prescription drugs like there was no tomorrow. It truly did ruin my life and I still to this day have not found a way to help myself. He has gone through alcoholic anonymous and hes still in it to this day . He missed my sixteenth birthday so he could go to a bar and I believe that's when he realized he had an issue. It sucks having to cope with something so horrible. He never paid attention to me , only his 27 year old girlfriend. Hopefully I will get through this , the right way .
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