Addiction, Mum and Me.

How are you so……. normal? The response I get when I tell people that I was a child of someone in active addiction.

It probably took me to have my own child before I realised that my own childhood wasn’t the best. How could it be? Gabor Mate states that anyone growing up in a home full of addiction cannot have a happy childhood.

However, what I want to share with you in this story is that growing up with a parent addicted to alcohol doesn’t set out your stall for the rest of your life.

My mum battled with alcohol addiction throughout my life. A victim of domestic violence, battling her own mental health issues and suicidal ideation – I imagine alcohol was my mum’s friend when she was in need and felt that she had nothing and no one else to turn to.

Alcohol provided comfort and relief from pain and suffering.

As a child growing up in a household full of chaos, uncertainty and at times fear, my view of the world and people became very distorted. For me, people were unsafe, not to be trusted, but I learned from a young age that as long as they were happy and OK then I would be. It is only natural I grew up as a ‘people pleaser’ ensuring everyone else’s needs were met before my own to ensure I had the best chance of survival. At least that is what I know now.

What was it like growing up as a child in this environment?

Always searching for the empty bottle of vodka and cans of Carlsberg special brew to understand what was going on. Always feeling like you were caught in the middle of a lie. I don’t like mam drinking but if I tell dad, he will hit her.

Police coming to the school to escort you to the hospital as your mam had attempted an overdose.

The anxiety of not knowing what you were going to walk into from school.

Being placed in various foster homes, like a twisted reverse version of Goldilocks and the three bears, where we just weren’t good enough for some families. (Or that’s what we believed)

As an adult because of this, I struggle with recognising if I am worthy or good enough. I have struggled with low self-esteem, confidence issues, struggled to make decisions, and at times been in unhealthy relationships as I never thought I deserved anything better.

But growing up with an alcohol-dependent mother and having the experiences I have had also means it has shaped the way I parent, the way I raise my daughter. Her childhood experience is completely different from what I experienced.

It would have been quite easy for me to follow the generation before me and continue these learned patterns of behaviour.

This experience may have negatively impacted my childhood but now it has positively impacted where I am now as an adult:  working in the same rehab that I visited my mum in as a 6-year-old child.   Helping people like my mam, understanding what has happened to them, what their story is away from addiction

Often the people I work with are compounded with blame and guilt and shame about what they have ‘put their kids’ through when they were lost in the chaos of addiction. I want to say to them – look at where you are now. You are making the changes; you are showing up now. This is the start.

This doesn’t define you. This isn’t the end of your story. This is just a chapter.


I will leave you with this: A letter to my mum.  

To my mum:

I know you did the best you could.

I know you were battling your own stuff and did not have the capacity to look after us.

I know you can’t have imagined your kids going into care.

I know alcohol seemed like a good friend to have when you felt alone.

I know you wished your life could have been different.

I know that you believed you didn’t have a way out.


I also know this:

I know you loved us.


“Don’t worry about a thing, cos every little thing, is gonna be alright”

 Love from, a little girl. 

If you have a loved one that has been or still is actively using substances and this negatively impacts you, your life, and your wellbeing, Recovery Connections provide a group specifically for you. It is a peer support group where we look at addiction and what it is, what that means in people's lives, tools to use to support you and your loved one, support for yourself and your own wellbeing and a safe environment where you can be open and honest and receive support from others in similar situations to yourself. 

For further support and information visit: