An Open Letter to the Addicts Raising Children

Dear Addicted Parents,

Do not think for a second that I do not understand. I have seen single-handedly the process that created you. I have seen with my own eyes the birth of demons, the self-loathing, and the late nights of pain that create an addict.

I have seen the breakdowns, heard the songs you’ve written, and felt the relationships that broke you as if they were my own. I have seen the darkness in your eyes that has you convinced that just one more drink, one more line, one more syringe, and maybe you’ll wake up from this nightmare.

I’ve seen the devastation when you wake up the next morning, and everything that created an addict still exists. I have seen you.

But I have also been your child. I have stood alone at father-daughter dances, fearing your drunken presence would be more an embarrassment than a comfort. I have had the sober parent tell me that no one can know, and that they wouldn’t understand.

I have been on the living room couch when grandparents and sober-parent sit us down and tell us that addicted-parent just isn’t coming home for a while. And I was in the front seat of the car when my sober-parent told me addicted-parent wasn’t coming home at all.

I am not here to invalidate your pain. Every dark aspect, every abandonment, every abuse you encountered created an addict. And I sympathize with all the ways you’ve tried to kill your pain.

But I am begging you, even though your life created an addict, don’t use your addiction to create me.

I am a daughter who will be walked down the aisle by my brother at my wedding.

I am a girlfriend whose father you will never have to impress.

I am a sister doing the best I can to explain to my little brother what it means to be a man, when I have never been one.

I am a daughter watching a mother bend over backwards trying to raise two children financially, emotionally, and mentally, and being punished when all she ever did was fall in love with an addict.

This is not a sob story. I will spit on your pity, and reject your help. I don’t need it.

I am simply saying what I wish someone had told my father before I was forced to grow up without one.

Stop. Today. Right now. This instant.

Stop so that your child doesn’t need to know what it’s like to sit at AA or NA meetings with you and hear stories of “50 years sobriety” while you still reek of booze.

Stop so that your child doesn’t constantly compare their own worth to a glass bottle, a pipe, or a syringe.

Stop so that you won’t miss it. Be there for every prom, every wedding, every break-up. You need to be there.

Stop choosing your death when so many parents would give anything just to live for their kids. Children are losing parents to cancer, natural disasters, and poverty, because that kind of death doesn’t leave you with a choice. Addiction does.

Your demons and your pain are valid, but they should’ve stopped taking center stage the exact MOMENT you brought a child into this world.

Your addiction is not saving you from darkness, it is creating ours.

I know you think it will never happen to you, and maybe it won’t. But it happened to me, and I am beyond determined to do everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

So dear Addicted Parents, start being the parent we can’t wait to grow up and be like, instead of the parent we are terrified of turning into



4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Addicts Raising Children

  1. I empathize with this letter so much because this is an unfair situation for all parties involved. Personally, I struggle with “daddy issues” as well due to a situation very similar to yours and I don’t think I would have been able to write this message as eloquently as you have just done. I’m sure you have small moments of positive male adult role models in your life and I hope you can maximize those moments as needed. Stay strong and know that he may not have get past the stereotypical overprotective father, but I’m sure your mother would be more than happy to step in for that role as well. Much love 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi there,

    I know you wrote this a while ago. I just found it now.

    Thank you for your open and heart felt letter.

    I just found out I’m pregnant. My boyfriend is an addict. I’m so afraid our baby will grow up this way. I beg him to take responsibility, but he keeps making promises he can’t keep. Excuse after excuse. I’m so sad. He has a big heart but a pained soul from what his father did.

    The war on drugs and alcohol has a new meaning for me.

    I will share your post with him so he can see it from the child’s perspective. Hopefully your words will help him.

    Thank you again.


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