Didn’t think my mum was an alcoholic.




Im 18 and in the past 3-4 years my mum has become reliant on drinking (always wine, then whatever she can get hold of after the wine is all gone). I don’t remember her drinking when i was younger although i do have a terrible memory so i can’t be sure. My mum is the closest person to me and my best friend, we get on really well but only when she is sober. I didn’t think she had a problem for a long time because i always thought it only counted if they drank 24/7, every morning and night. However my mum drinks every other night, sometimes she can go multiple nights in a row till 6 in the morning. I never thought much of it because she always gets up early and is generally really healthy other than the drink. If we are away on holiday or with family she also won’t drink as much. She can say hurtful things sometimes, i don’t want to count it as verbal abuse but it does upset me. It’s always things like “It’s your anxiety that stresses me out, no wonder i drink`’ which makes me feel guilty. She also tends to repeat the exact same things, it’s like she’s on auto pilot. Normally just swearing at me to leave her alone or go when i just walk in a room. I confide in her when i am upset and she is sober and she’s always supportive, then later on in the night when she’s drunk she just complains about how i go on about things or stress her out, i feel like i don’t help and contribute to why she drinks 🙁 I have had a conversation before with her where she did mention that when she was 12 she became reliant on alcohol. I don’t know everything but i know that majority of her childhood was happy, i think it’s a collection of things overtime. She was in the army and saw some upsetting things (no war zones but lots of poverty), she gave up quite abit for my dad so i think she regrets things. I love her so much but it is getting worse. My dad works alot and also likes abit of drink so it’s just difficult to say. The difference is that with my mum she will drink until she can’t stand , i’ve found her many times passed out and im worried one night she’ll have a fall or become ill if it carries on. I have said things when she’s drunk out of frustration and she just says “you’re far from perfect”. I don’t know what to do. I saw she downloaded an app to track her drinking and i was so happy but nothing has changed since i saw it. It’s awkward to talk to her i don’t know how, is there anyway i can reach out?. We have a small family and i cannot talk to friends as the pandemic has just made me even more distant. I struggle to bring friends or potential boyfriends round as everyone perceives us as happy and normal but i never know what my parents will be like, i feel so lonely. I know im 18 and could be more independent but i didn’t want to move out and go to uni because then my mum would probably drink even more. It sounds bad written out like this i didn’t realise till just now, i want to say we are mostly happy and so close which i thought would make it easier to talk but there’s this elephant in the room that no one talks about. Sorry it’s so long.

  • listener

    Hi Grace,

    Thanks for posting and sharing your story.

    I think firstly it is important to share with you Nacoa’s 6 C’s:
    • I didn’t cause it
    • I can’t cure it
    • I can’t control it
    • I can take care of myself
    • I can communicate my feelings
    • I can make healthy choices

    It sounds like a really challenging situation and it must be hard hearing those comments from your mum. Despite what she may say it is important to remember that you are not responsible for her actions. I think it’s common to feel those mixed emotions of love, frustration and guilt all at the same time, and I’m sure lots of others will really relate and empathise with what you’ve said here about your relationship with your mum.

    Nacoa has lots of publications and resources that might be worth taking a look at? Some of the publications explain a bit more about the reasons why people drink and the affect it has on them, which may help you to start understanding some of your mum’s actions and choices: https://nacoa.org.uk/research-resources/publication/

    Its really important to reach out and get support for yourself. Please know Nacoa have a helpline that you are always welcome to contact (helpline@nacoa.org.uk / 0800 358 3456). There’s lots of services out there ready to support both you and your mum, and remember you are not alone and don’t have to deal with this situation on your own.

    Take care

    • blue96

      Hi grace72,

      Firstly, well done on taking the first step and writing out how you're feeling.

      I can massively empathise with a lot of what you said and its very difficult growing up with a parent who completely changes after having a drink.

      It's so important that you put yourself and your own wellbeing first and realise that this absolutely isn't your fault in the slightest.

      If you don't feel like you can talk to your friends, is there maybe a trusted adult at either school or college that you could confide in? The NACOA helpline is also a really great option for you to unload your feelings.

      Best wishes :)

  • uniquemind

    Hello, I'm sorry you're going through this.

    You are not the cause of your mum's alcoholism, alcoholic's usually look else where to blame others for their addiction. Admitting you are an alcoholic is a massive step in the direction to help. However, someone can only want the help themselves and want to seek the help themselves, no one else can make them which is very difficult to live through. My mum is also an alcoholic and was my best friend during childhood before her drinking, when someone is under the influence it is not them. Although, It is so hard to deal with even when they are sober. I have also felt and still feel shame regarding my mums alcoholism, It does get easier and as soon as you are ready you will be able to process it and tell others. Others will not judge you on someone else's choices but usually have a large amount of empathy. Maybe contacting services close to you for extra support regarding your mum's past experiences could help her in the direct to get help. However, usually when this is mentioned they become frustrated. You need support and you need to talk to others about what is happening to help you as a person.

    Hope this helps

  • stars1

    Hi grace,

    I can understand what you’re going through with your mum as I feel the same about mine. It’s not that she becomes verbally abusive after a drink, it’s just she seems like a completely different person to when she’s sober. My mum doesn’t think that she has a problem at all and refuses to acknowledge that her drinking turns her into a different person because she just ‘likes her wine’.
    I can understand how difficult it is and I have been struggling myself with what to do in this kind of situation because I really want to help my mum but there is only so much that I can do. She has to be the one to make that first move.

    Just wanted to leave this comment to say that you’re not alone in feeling this way

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