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To Sam

Mum and alcohol


Recently my parents has separated due to my dad having an affair and his nasty behaviour. This has been upsetting for all of my family but my mum was the most upset out of all of us, which is understandable as they were together for 30 years!

The past two years since their separation I have noticed a change in my mum, to start with I wasn't sure of the problem but I have now realised it is her drinking. I'm not sure whether she is an alcoholic or not, but she does drink an awful lot. Each night her glass is continuously filling up and her behaviour has changed, when she drinks (every night) she seems really tired, depressed and high tempered, and her speech is slurred!

I understand she is doing it because she's upset but it's getting worse. Some days I've woken up for school at about 7 am and she is pouring a glass of something, it's hard to explain how I feel when she drinks but it makes me really upset and uncomfortable to be around her! I try to act as nice as I can but it seems when she's been drinking she is looking for an argument with me and it scares me because she shouts at me a lot for basically no reason!

I've spoken to her multiple times about this but each time she says she will stop doing it but the next day she is still drinking. Last time I told her how I felt she shouted at me and said it's her choice whether she drinks and that I can't control her!

I've spoken to my older siblings who have now left and they said she has always been drinking, but I could never remember it as i was so young and had no knowledge of telling whether she was sober or not!

I'm not only worried for her health but also our relationship. We used to be really close but since her drinking habit we have drifted and since my dads gone I have no one really, I don't like being around her when she's like that and sometimes I wish I could move out or run away, but I'm only 14, I hope you can help and give me some advice, thank you!:)

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your letter and for telling me about how things are for you at home.

It sounds like your mum has perhaps used alcohol as a way of coping with things that are difficult in her life. This seems to have become more obvious to you lately since her drinking has increased. It also seems like something you might now be more aware of because you’re older and able to see things differently.

It sounds like your mum might not see her drinking as being problematic – she’s said that it’s her choice whether to drink or not, and sadly that’s true. However, whether she drinks or not really affects you and it’s not okay that she shouts at you, upsets you and makes you feel uncomfortable. It sounds like she can be quite frightening when she’s drunk. Your mum has a duty of care for you and this should be her priority. Sometimes those close to us are not aware of the impact their behaviour can have on us.

You’ve said that your mum and dad split up partly because of his nasty behaviour. I don’t know what your dad did that was nasty, but it sounds like home might have been a difficult place for you and your siblings for quite a while. I’m not sure how old your siblings are and how much support you’re able to get from them, but it’s important that you know that you don’t have to keep this to yourself if you don’t want to. It might be that there’s someone at school who you trust and could talk to. Talking to someone can really help and is an important step in changing things. You have already taken the first step by writing to me.

If you’d like to talk through your feelings or what options you might have in terms of support, you could talk to a ChildLine counsellor. Our counsellors will listen and support you and help you to think about what, if anything, you’d like to do next. You can email them, call them on 0800 1111 or log on for a 1-2-1 chat.

In the meantime, you could always check out the ChildLine message boards to see what other young people are saying about similar issues. There’s also Alateen which is a website offering advice and support to the teenage family of alcoholics (or people who drink a lot).

I hope that some of this information has been useful.

Take care,

Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

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