A Mother’s Love – a Son’s Alcoholism

A Mother’s love in the face of a Son’s Alcoholism.


A mother writes a painful letter to her son outlining what she can and can no longer do in the face of her son’s alcoholism.

The following is a letter a mother wrote to her son and shared with me to put on this blog in the event it may help other parents. It is beautifully written and shares the pain-filled decision she’s had to make. Names have been replaced by __________ to protect identities.

Dear ________________,

Once again I am writing to insure there is no confusion regarding what I am about to say.

I have never wavered in my love for you ___________, or in my willingness to do whatever was needed for your safety and well being.  I have no doubt that you have the strength and determination necessary to reclaim your life.  But I have become painfully aware that I cannot do it for you.    Nor will you be able to do so yourself if you continue to drink.

It is excruciatingly painful for me to say and to believe, but there is no doubt in my mind that you are an alcoholic.  As long as you continue to drink, nothing will improve for you.  For my part, I will no longer support your drinking, or ‘look the other way’.  I am doing what you have often requested: ‘treating you like a forty year old man’.  When you are willing and able to acknowledge all that you have lost, and to accept the truth of how much your life has been destroyed  by alcohol, I believe that you have the strength and the will to change things.

As far as I can see, you have two options:

  • To quit drinking and do whatever is needed to take back your life;
  • Continue deeper and deeper into alcoholism, until it leaves you sick and alone and possibly homeless.  It will inevitably, kill you.

If you choose to quit drinking, I will support you in any way I can and offer you two options:

1.)   A Residential treatment center where you can live for up to three months and find help and support from people who know the difficulties of alcohol addiction and are themselves struggling toward sobriety.  This is what helped _________________ return to the family and life he had lost.

2.)   I will allow you to live at home as long as you follow the program and do not drink. Although this sounds like business as usual, it is not.

To live in my house, I will expect you to:

a.)   Meet once with a woman who is an expert on alcohol and its effect on the brain.

b.)   Connect with a new doctor (whom I will recommend).

c.)   Attend DRA (Dual Recovery Anonymous) meetings 2x/week with _____________ and 2x/week with __________, AND 2x/week on your own.  There are AA meetings at ____________ and at the big church on __________ that you can walk to.

If you refuse to stop drinking:

1.)    It is only a matter of time that you will be homeless which will inevitably lead to hospitalization and/or jail.

2.)   There is no reason for you not to move to Reno where I will buy you a house.  You can stay inside, and do exactly what you do here: smoke and drink and inevitably, talk to yourself.  If you ever find yourself in jail or the hospital, you will have a home to return to.  And someone to call if/when you need help.

I will never stop loving you ____________, but I am 72 years old and could die tomorrow.  I can no longer afford the stress of living with your drinking and the constant fear and worry of what it might lead to.  Today, I know you have lied to me about many things and, because of my love and devotion to you, I have often looked the other way.  Or hoped against hope that you were telling me the truth, even when I knew you were not.  In accepting that behavior I was not helping either of us.  I believe that I have finally awakened to the reality of what I am dealing with.  I can only hope that you will do the same.

All my love,


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Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Author | Speaker | Consultant | Founder at BreakingTheCycles.com
Lisa is the author of hundreds of articles and 11 books, including "If You Loved Me, You'd Stop!," "Addiction Recovery: What Helps, What Doesn't," and "Secondhand Drinking: the Phenomenon That Affects Millions." She is a national keynote speaker with over 25 years speaking experience, consultant, and founder of BreakingTheCycles.com. She has spent more than 14 years studying 21st century brain research in order to write, speak, and consult on substance use disorders prevention, intervention and treatment; mental disorders; addiction (aka substance use disorders) as a brain disease; adolescent addiction treatment vs adult addiction treatment; effective treatment for co-occurring disorders (having both a substance use and mental disorder); secondhand drinking | drugging; help for the family; and related subjects. In 2015, she founded SHD Prevention, providing training and consulting to companies, public agencies, unions, nonprofits and other entities to address the workplace impacts of employee secondhand drinking and alcohol misuse.
Lisa Frederiksen

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  1. Painful to read . . . but oh so very necessary for this mother and her son.

    A drug and alcohol counselor told me that only after his father turned him away and stopped enabling him did he get clean and sober. As parents when we shift our behavior it shifts the behavior of our kids even when our kids are 40 year-old adults. Alcoholism stunts emotional growth. This man will need to not only seek support for rehabilitation but also life skills to deal with everyday issues he’s buried with alcohol.

    A brave mom to share this. Sending big hugs and bundles of strength. I hope that she is seeking support as well.

  2. My son is 25 and an alcoholic its heart wrenching
    Im going to do as this letter says and let him be a grown ass man Im not an enabler for him and have repeatedly told him he is not to have alcohol in my house or to come here drunk but it continues to happen and has driven a huge wedge between my husband and i I hope and pray things turned out for the author and pray it will for my family to as i am to my wits end