To Anyone Growing Up With Addict Parents, You’re Not Alone

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I’ve been where you are. I know what it’s like to watch your parents choose drugs over you, over and over again. It seems like it never ends, right? It’s a constant rollercoaster of emotions, and you’re trying to navigate your way through them while also trying to grow up and find your place.

It’s hard.

You worry — for your parents, for your siblings, for yourself — and that lingers in the back of your mind all day. You feel guilty. Maybe you could have done something to prevent this, or at least to keep it from getting so bad. You feel responsible. You feel the need to take care of them when it should be them taking care of you.

You’re just a kid.

You can’t make certain decisions for yourself, and you should be able to trust your parents to make those decisions for you. They should be able to pay the bills, to keep you fed, to hold you accountable for your schoolwork, but instead they spend their money on drugs and forget about you.

You’re not sure if it’s worse when they do forget about you or when they don’t. The attention isn’t always good, but you convince yourself that it’s better than nothing.

You slowly but surely learn to take care of yourself, but there’s something that keeps repeating over and over again in your mind: is this all that life has in store for you? Are you destined to become like your parents? You hear people make jokes that they’re becoming just like their mom or their dad, but you hope and pray that you never do.

Then again, it’s all you’ve ever known. You wonder if you could possibly stay away from the addiction that they’ve chosen for themselves or if it’s inevitable that you follow in their footsteps.

This is where I need you to listen to me: You do not have to be them. You will one day escape the hell you’re living in, and you will do better than that. I know you can. There’s a large culture around drug use these days, one where it’s deemed socially acceptable to do them, and often you might feel pressured to try. This pressure leads to a fear that you’ll end up just like them, and you picture yourself as a child, watching your parents throw their lives away, then as an adult in their place, and you wonder if it’s worth it. I’ve been out of that house for 11 years now, and the lessons I learned still linger in the back of my mind. I’m not sure we’ll ever forget them, but we can move past them.

I hope this letter gets to you in time. I hope it gets to you before you lose hope. I’ve been where you are, and I promise you, life is more than who your parents are or what they do. You don’t have to worry that you’re going to become just like them. They may not be able to teach you to make the right choices, but I urge you to learn from their mistakes. You will inevitably make mistakes, but that does not have to be one of them.

I am sorry your parents weren’t parents. I am sorry that you didn’t get the childhood you wanted or needed. I am sorry they took that from you.

You deserve so much better, and I hope you find that for yourself.

We will do better. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

My dog helps me write most of my pieces. Full credit to her.

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