Do They Know What It’s REALLY Like to Be the Mom of an Addict?

addict mom sorrow-and-worry-692911-m“Do they know?”

Moms of addicts often wonder if the rest of the world knows what it’s REALLY like to have an addicted child…

Have you ever thought about how it feels to be the mom of an addict?

Have you ever thought to yourself “Wow, that must be so hard for her!”

Have you ever “put yourself in her shoes” and realized what her life must be like?

Most likely you haven’t.

addict homeless-9767-mBut I’m sure a lot of you have a friend, family member or co-worker who has child addicted to drugs…

And more than likely you get tired of hearing about the problems and drama that a addict’s mom “complains” about (often on a regular basis).

Maybe you’ve been at work and a co-worker is constantly bringing up her addicted daughter and what she’s done now, such as lying, stealing, in jail, relentlessly calling her while she’s at work.

Are you polite and just seem to listen while you’re really thinking “I wish this woman would stop complaining so much, it’s all day every day and I’m tired of hearing about her problems!”?

Do you gossip with other co-workers about her “problems” and imply that she is to blame?

Or maybe you have a friend who whenever you’re around her all she can talk about is how upset and worried she is about her addicted son.

Maybe you avoid her so you don’t have to listen to her problems? Or you rush her out the door?  Or you stop calling her as much and tend to ignore her calls at times?

Maybe it’s a cousin whose child is an addict, and you just think you must have done a better job raising your child than her because your child didn’t become addicted to drugs.

OR your friend might even be quiet about what’s going on with her child and it’s eating her away inside.

Well, I am one of those pesky mom’s! That’s right!

I’M your annoying co-worker, friend or family member!

My child is an addict, and I don’t keep quiet about it because I need my friends and family to care about me and what I go through.

A mom's worry and pain are endless
A mom’s worry and pain are endless

Some moms keep their child’s addiction a secret because of the social stigma regarding addiction, while they silently suffer deep inside.

Us moms of addicts want the rest of the world to understand what it’s like to be US, and what we go through. We need your kindness and support….because it could have been YOUR child.

We don’t want you to FIX our problems, believe me when I tell you that we’ve tried everything under the sun to save our child!

What we DO need is your kindness and understanding.

We don’t need to be judged…how would you feel if you were judged?

Having compassion and empathy for others would make this world a much better place!

If your child were ill I’m sure you would need the support and kindness from friends, family and co-workers. Right?

addict angry-924207-mHave you ever feared for your safety at the hands of your own child? Can you even begin to imagine feeling that way?  

Well, a lot of moms have experienced this fear, and some have suffered actual physical assaults by their child. And yes….some have even been killed by their own child.  I’m sure you’ve seen things like this in the news before, felt bad about it for a minute, then didn’t think twice about it as you went on about your day.

I personally have never been attacked violently (not physically anyway) by my daughter, but when she lived with me I DID keep my bedroom door locked at night.  Because quite simply she could be very scary, and there were threats made by her at times.  I sure wasn’t going to take any chances!

Can you imagine raising a grandchild or grandchildren?  Addiction is the #1 reason so many of us grandparents have had to start all over again raising kids.

Do you know what it feels like to also be worrying every single day, and the fear that your child, your baby that you raised, could DIE from an overdose at any moment?

It hurts – A LOT!

Do they know how it feels to not want your own child in your home?

Do they know how helpless we feel that we can’t make things “all better” for our child? 

Hopefully you’ll develop a more loving and compassionate view of what we go through and how strong we really are.

We are moms who love our children very much, just like you love yours.  It kills us inside to see our children taken over by drugs.  

So if you are a mom who doesn’t have an addicted child, then count your lucky stars….

And always remember…

It could’ve been YOUR child.

The “Do They Know?” series, Part One and Part Two was inspired by a friend who was in awe of how strong moms of addicts are and what our addicted children put us through.  

Part One and Part Two are written by me, a mom of an addict and are based on my feelings and experiences.  There will be more to come…

Click the following link to read Part One: “Do They Know? Part One

Please feel free to leave a comment or even your own “Do they know?”…





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34 Comments to Do They Know What It’s REALLY Like to Be the Mom of an Addict?

  1. Hi Lori
    I feel your pain and frustration there. I have worked with people suffering from addictions within the jail system, all of them being the son or daughter of someone. I have also had addiction in my personal life and I have attended Nar-anon numerous times. Our society can be so judgy. But when you learn about addiction, when you actually live it in your you life, well its a very different scenario. It drives you crazy at times and you are not even the one using! But its also a disease and one that changes our loved ones. I totally get your post and the looks and comments you can get. Makes you feel judged…

    • Hi Emily,
      I think it’s awesome that you work with people suffering from addictions, we need people like you and so do our kids! I’m sorry you’ve had to also deal with addiction in your personal life. I wish there was a Nar-anon meeting near where I live, but I’m lucky to have support from a few online groups and family and friends. Some people don’t have any kind of support and are just suffering silently, I feel bad for them. Yes, it DOES drive you crazy! Drugs have had a HUGE effect on my whole life and I’m not an addict…yet drugs are prevalent in my life anyway. No one should judge, that’s so wrong. I’m hoping more awareness will change that in the future. Thanks for all you do to help, it’s appreciated! Lori

      • thanks Lori! I love working with the jail population. People judge them so much but there is always a very good person inside of them. They deserve help as much as everyone else. There is a realness to them. And there is a realness in addictions. When we have an addict in our life, it does feel like we are going crazy. We start thinking everything is our fault, we start doubting reality and we are not even the one using! I would not believe it if I had not lived it. I found help within my Nar Anon group. And now I attend a Native healing circle. I have found acceptance and a judgment free space there.

        • I was very surprised at how creative and talented a lot of people with addictions really are. A girl who was briefly friends with my daughter years ago gave her and absolutely amazing painting that she’d painted herself. I really wish they’d realize that they have a lot to give to this world…

    • I’m so sorry to hear that Jacob, I understand how hard it is. Please let me know if you’d like to be directed to a support group, there are a lot of great ones out there, I’m joined to a few online since there are no actual physical groups near me. I’ve made some wonderful, very helpful new friends who really understand since they’re going through the same thing. I hope things get better for you and your addicted loved ones. Lori

  2. Great article Lori. I went through the same thing.Only difference i was a father instead of a mother. I was embarrassed to talk about my son, but luckily I had some friends that were supportive. Now my son is cleaned up and has a good life. It was a tough road, but we made it through it all.

    • Thanks Bob! I’m so sorry you experienced this with your son, but am also very happy he’s clean and doing well! It’s such a hard road for them and for us parents. If you ever need support again (hoping you won’t!) send me a message and I’ll direct you to a great support group online. Congratulations to your son and I wish him a lifetime of love and happiness! Lori

  3. Great article and I completely agree with the love and kindness, but I have my own view of this. In my view if your child in an addice it you have messed up as a parent. I know this is last thing you want to hear, but just hear me out. Addictions are ways to cover up emotion. Parents unititionally teach there children to suppress emotion.”There is no reason for you to be mad”, “stop that crying”, “you should be thankful there are children in Africa who are starving”. Most people find way to suppress it, the most popular is sugar. How many time did we get a bowl of ice cream when we are upset. Other times it might even be exercise. Then we get to drugs, which yes can be very scary. However, my suggestion is to focus on yourself in these time because you are probably holding back the same emotion with different addictions. Also, give your child permission to feel these things, let them be where they are because it will probably be the very first time. I send all of my love to you. You are amazing to be were you are now. <3

    • Hi Elisha,

      Thank you for your point of view on this. While I don’t agree that parents whose children are addicted have messed up as parents, I do see your point regarding parents unintentionally teaching their children to suppress emotion. Unfortunately children don’t come with manuals (wish they did though!). We all have done the best we could raising our children, but of course made mistakes as everyone does. Addictions such as drugs and alcohol are a little more complicated with the way the brain is effected. Also drug/alcohol addiction seems to happen to some people and not to others due to chemical interaction in the brain. Yes, we all have our addictions. I’m addicted to lotion, paper towels and chap stick. And yes, some people have addictions to food and exercise, etc. that are not good for their health. Having a drug/alcohol addicted child, friend, or other family member is something that’s very hard for us who aren’t addicted to those specific things to understand and to handle. There’s so much involved, and there is so much pain, hurt and other emotions that we all become “sick” and need to learn to take better care of ourselves and OUR lives. I truly hope you never ever have to experience this in your life. Thank you for the reminder of things that can cause suppression of emotion, I am going to remember NOT to do those things while raising my grandson! Lori

  4. Hi Lori,
    Sometimes we forget to empathize with others and put ourselves in their shoes, so thank you for this reminder.

    It must be incredibly difficult to be in this situation, and you’re right – it could happen to anyone. My heart goes out to any parents in this situation.

    • Hi Jolie,
      You’re right, sometimes we do forget to empathize with others in so many different situations. We all need to learn to be more caring and aware and realize that anything can happen at anytime to anyone. Lori

  5. I work with a gentleman whose son got addicted to oxy’s after a surgery. His behaviour tore a huge rift in the fsmily, after years of lies and steali-g the family had an intervention and it failed. He had to as his son to leave because of his wife’s mental health do to his behaviour. They hope he finds himself-but till then they can’t handle him being in there life any longer. They are an oldr couple and they have huge debts for theor sons legal help. They can’t anymore and I can’t imagine that feeling.

    • That’s so sad Dan. Unfortunately most of the time it gets to the point where parents have to let go. It’s so hard for us though. I also had to have my daughter leave and know how hard that must have been for them. I hope their son will find his way back. Yes, the financial, emotional and legal issues can be so overwhelming, and on top of it all the worry about whether or not your child is okay. Lori

  6. thank-you for caring and understanding,fear is always in your heart and hope when they seem to be doing good, but always waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under you

  7. I tell everyone I can. When I first discovered my son’s addiction, I was blown away. I didn’t know where to turn. I found some programs and discovered how many moms there were. Heroin does not discriminate. I battled addiction with my son for 3 years before his death. I told everyone I could. I wAnted and needed help. I knew if this could happen to our family, it can happen to anyone. I didn’t want another mom to feel like a felt at first. Like I was so alone and ashamed of the addiction. Never ashamed of my son. Now, that my son is gone, I t e ‘ll people. Especially younger people. Like the young girl behind the counter at the jewelry store. Or, the kid selling me carpet, only to have him open up and tell me his brother recently overdosed. I felt his pain and knew it was the first tome he had told a outsider. This is my new normal. I don’t like it. But I will use it to spread a message. My son was collected f2f e educated. Did not steal. Grew up in church. Heroin doesn’t discriminate, it kills.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss Fran. I think it’s wonderful that you tell everyone you can, people need to know they don’t have to be ashamed and suffer silently! I’ve noticed there are a lot of people out there who are so willing to open up once they hear our stories. It’s sad that addiction is such an epidemic. I hope more awareness and the right kind of help for our kids will change that!

  8. i can relate whole heartedly, I lost my only daughter August 14,2011 and now my son is and has been addicted. I completely relate, sometimes it’s like your own family runs from you, I feel so isolated a lot of the time. Thank God there’s others that really do understand

    • I am so sorry for your loss of your daughter. I can’t imagine your pain. That’s my biggest fear… I hope and pray for your son to want recovery. It’s so sad that people in our lives seem to run from us because they can’t seem to handle things that are unknown to them. I wish they all knew how much we really need our family and friends to stand by us. Sending you prayers and hugs. Lori

  9. I know there are other parents out there like me, but it is nice to hear I’m not alone!!!! My daughter is now on her third or maybe its her fourth attempt to get clean. She is in a county appointed rehab unfortunately, the person running this center told me I had 23 years to fix her now its their turn to be successful and that I should just butt out! I was devastated, hurt and angry, but I need to let go.

    • No you’re definitely not alone Peggy, there are many of us, way too many! It’s been 14 years with my AD and I honestly have lost count of how many rehabs, detoxes, halfway houses, etc… Wow, that was pretty rude and mean of the rehab to treat you like that! You’re right that you need to let go (much easier said than done!). I hope your daughter’s ready to get clean!! Sending hugs for you and for your daughter. Lori

    • Hi Peggy, You are definitely not alone! I am amazed at how many parents are going through this with one or more of their children. It’s really getting out of control. I hope your daughter is doing well and that the center is helping her. I don’t like what they said to you at all though! Letting go is good though, but it’s also hard. I let go, then get sucked back in at times, then let go again… It’s exhausting! Lori

  10. i’m the mom of a addict too. i keep it a secret from my friends because i know that they would judge me. also, i do feel responsible. thanks for voicing all of this.

    • Oh, Deb, I hope you’ll come to realize that you’re not to blame. It’s such a difficult situation to be in especially when you feel your friends will judge you. It helps so much to have others in your situation to talk to. It took me many years to realize I wasn’t to blame, and many years to even understand drug addiction. HUGS, Lori

    • Hi Deb, I’m sorry that your friends would judge you, that’s just so wrong. I can’t believe the lack of empathy a lot of people seem to have.
      It’s not your fault Deb, it really isn’t. It takes a while to actually get to the point of realizing that. All we can do is provide unconditional love and hope our child wants help. Lori

  11. Thank you for your thoughts. You’ve described being the parent of an addict perfectly. We don’t need people telling us we caused this problem ourselves. We didn’t. They chose. They CHOSE this. It has taken me years to realize that I did not cause my son’s addiction, I can’t fix my son’s addiction. My son has the same right to choose his life story as we all have. He has chosen poorly, but make no mistake, and this is the part that has taken me years to understand…HE has chosen. I didn’t choose any of this for him, just as none of you have chosen this life for your child. After years of trying to ‘fix’ my sons addiction I have learned that after all is said and done, the ONLY thing I can do for my son is to love him unconditionally. I choose to be there to pick up the pieces. To love him even when he’s unlovable. Yes, I still call police when necessary. Yes, I still check on him regularly. Yes, I still have him admitted to the psych ward at the hospital when his behavior requires it. Yes, I still buy him food when the cupboards are bare. There is a fine line between enabling and sustaining life and I walk that line daily as most of you do. In the end, I think it all comes down to the fact that I still love my son. Through all the hard stuff. Through all the pain. Through the lies, the deceit, the rejection, the horror of what my child can sometimes be, I still love my son and I want him to succeed. Some days are easier than others and there are times a have to distance myself from him, but it all comes down to the fact that I love him, and if there’s even a shred of hope that he will someday have the strength to choose a better path, then I want him to know that I want to walk that path with him as well. It truly helps knowing that others understand and we are not in this alone.

    • Donna, It definitely helps to know we aren’t alone. No one can really grasp what us moms go through unless they’ve experience this themselves. All we can do is be there for them if they choose to get help, and that is their decision alone. It’s sad that there are so many of us going through this, yet a lot of times we feel alone. Your son knows you love him and anything you do for him is up to you….in my opinion there’s no right or wrong, it’s whatever we can live with and feel comfortable with. I’ve also given my daughter food, bought her clothes, etc… I can relate to everything you’ve said. Especially the “fixing” part. I tried to “fix” my daughter for sooo long. Now I know I can only try to fix ME! But boy do I WISH fixing her would’ve worked! Lori

  12. We also lived with a drug addict for a time. We decided tough love was necessary. Once out on the street he became a petty thief to support his habit. Was arrested, sent to prison where they get no help for their addictions. They just sit there and serve their time. Once they are released they can’t find a job, no one will hire them because of their record. So they return to the streets and petty crimes until they are caught again and the cycle continues. Our son has been incarcerated 9 of the last 13 years. He will be 30. He has never hurt anyone, used a weapon, or resisted arrest. Just petty crimes. He has now moved up to a maximum security prison in PA for reasons unknown. He still is not getting any help for his addiction. Recidivism is being created by the system itself. Rehabilitation is non existent. So in short we are living WITHOUT our addict, because the prison system and judicial systems won’t help him but they won’t let him go either. A vicious circle.

    • Michelle, I am so sorry that your son isn’t receiving the help he needs. Our system really needs to change to where our addicted children are receiving the proper help to overcome the addiction instead of just being thrown in jail. Lori

  13. I just got up enough courage to finally throw out my 21 year old son after 6 years. I figured I tried everything else and it’s not working. I am not getting the support I need from family and his own father. I feel so alone but have to stay strong for my other kids.

    • Jody, It’s so hard to have to throw your own child out isn’t it? The first time I had to tell my daughter to leave I had to ask my mother to come over and help me. After that it got a little easier each time, I think because each time things were worse with her addiction(s). Now I’m not so sure I could ever live like that again…. I’m sorry for your lack of support from your family, I hope they finally “get it” at some point, you need them. Stay strong, and you’re not alone! HUGS, Lori

  14. Thank you for all of this. I am the mom of an addict. I am raising my 3 1/2 yr old grandson. I feel everything you wrote. After crying the past 20 minutes reading all of this I do realize that I need to find a support group or something. I feel like Im fighting so hard to save everyone else that im losing myself. Thank you.

    • Hi Joanie, Sorry for my delayed response. If you are interested in a support group I can direct you to a few very good groups, so please let me know. It’s so hard isn’t it? You’re amazing for being their for your grandson! Lori

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