Not sure what more I can do




I’m 34 years old and my mum has been an alcoholic my whole life. I am my mum’s only child and the only person who is there for her. I didn’t have a bad childhood, there was no abuse and I was loved by both parents but mum’s alcoholism was always there. There’s been lots of traumatic times over the years involving job losses, debt, alcohol related health issues and serious falls – broken pelvis, broken leg and broken ankle (the latter 2 coming since Jan 2023).

None of my mum’s family bother with her, they never ask how she is or how I am coping. My parents split up when I was 16 and I remained living with my mum until moving into my own home at 25. I do have a relationship with my Dad and he tries to be supportive but he remarried and has 2 other children now (age 15 and 18) so it’s difficult for him. I really am at my wits end, trying to help her whenever there is a problem and the only person in her support network. Taking to her to/from appointments, managing finances to make sure bills are cover, appointee for DWP, picking up the pieces when things go wrong. I’m not sure how much longer I can deal with it but if I was to cut ties, she’d be dead within 6 months. I am the ONLY person there.

Over the years she’s made attempts to stop drinking but I’m of the opinion that this was because loved ones were asking her to rather than her wanting to. Counselling, home detoxes, a short spell rehab…nothing works. She has had some periods of non-drinking but these were due to her being unable to get out of the house to buy drink – the most recent were after her leg break (3 months no drinking) and ankle break (2 months no drinking).

I feel like there is a constant storm cloud above my head, always dark and when it rains, it pours. I’ve dealt with this on my own for an entire adult life and whilst I have still been able to do all the things I want (buy a house, good job, go out with friends, travel etc.), I am sick to death of having this on my shoulders.

  • listener

    Hi glastonbird,

    Thank you for reaching out to the Nacoa message boards and for sharing your story here. I am so sorry to hear about everything you are going through right now with your mum’s alcoholism. It sounds like you are bearing much of the burden and completely alone, so it must feel incredibly isolating.

    It sounds like there has been a lot of huge changes to your own life in recent years and this must have been difficult to navigate all whilst trying to look after your mum as well. You mention the feeling of having a constant storm cloud above your head, which must feel incredibly tiring. It sounds like there is a tremendous amount of responsibility on your shoulders. I think even if you have some of the things you want in life, this responsibility must feel like a weight that is always there and it does not diminish the intense feelings that comes with being a COA.

    It must feel frustrating that nothing has worked in the past for your mum’s drinking. The sad reality is that there is very little anyone can do, and it must be up to the drinker to be amenable to getting the help. Sometimes denial can play a role too and this can make it hard to try and get them to see the impact that their drinking is having. It must also feel incredibly stressful with the health worries.

    It is important to remember that you matter too. It sounds like you are doing everything you can possibly do. Whilst it can be hard to prioritise your own wellbeing sometimes, it can be good to try and find things that can help you – whether that’s building a support network around you, focusing on activities/hobbies that you enjoy, trying to place barriers for when you just need to do your own thing.

    It can help to know too that there are people here who truly understand and know exactly what you are going through, so you are not at all alone in this. I hope that writing out your experience here helped in some ways, sometimes through the act of writing it can feel a bit of a relief.

    If you would like more support and to speak with one of our helpline counsellors, do reach out to our helpline via email ( or telephone (0800 358 3456), both are open Monday to Saturday 10am to 7pm. We also have a webchat support open Thursdays 12-5pm.

    We understand very much how talking about these experiences is not always easy, so please do know you’ve done something good for yourself here by reaching out.

    Take good care,

  • zeebee


    I'm so sorry you are going through this. Your story really spoke to me because I'm in a similar situation. Below is a message I posted on here in November, I'll let you read through it and hopefully you will feel less alone.

    'charities such as Al-Anon and NACOA to try and begin processing the damage caused by all this. I’m going to be organising some counselling with a therapist who specialises in adult children of alcoholics moving forward, and I’m hoping I can begin to live the life I want to create for myself. I have an incredible support network and I feel lucky that I have this in place. I believe i’m a good person, and in return have been able to create and maintain a group of amazing friends who care for me and want the best for me.

    At not even 29 years old, there’s many things I would love to do with my life which she has made me believe aren’t possible. To feel responsible for another person from birth, means putting your own hopes, aspirations and goals on hold. I’m fearful that if I continue down this path, I will eventually look back with deep regret and a feeling of loss of my own life. I love my mother, but I feel this isn’t reciprocated in a way most parents love their children. Again, this has been a devastating conclusion to reach in recent years and I’m trying my best to come to terms with it.

    I’ve had this conversation with her several times over the past few days, one of which was in front of her FP and I recorded on my phone. She knows and understands my stance in that I cannot intervene like I have done my entire life anymore. I know now that if I continue to do so, my own life will be destroyed and the cycle will continue.'

    Since then, I've been attending therapy, exercising, practising mindfulnes and journalling, and generally trying to get on with my life. I've limited contact with my mum and have decided that moving forward I no longer will intervene. I could talk about this all night with you but the my overarching advice is to stop this now whilst you have the chance. You cannot do this anymore, nothing you do will ever change her behaviour or resolve this issue. I'm so sorry to say this but if she is dead in 6 months she has to take some responsibility for that. You cannot put your life on hold or you'll look back with deep regret. I totally feel your anguish, anxiety and horror and I wish there was more I could say, but I'm just hoping that for both of us there will be brighter days, and please look after yourself in the meantime x

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