Alcoholic Dad: My Story of Living with an Alcoholic Father

How alcohol addiction of my father created family problems and ways to overcome them

- | 75 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Family & Parenting

one of the alcoholic parents drinking beer

Living with an alcoholic father is not easy. It impacts your life in many ways. What happens in a family with alcoholic parents? How do children cope with them? Is there a solution to overcome the alcohol addiction? Here’s a true story from a person who had the experience of having an alcoholic parent. She describes how drinking by a parent can create family problems and recommends solutions. ~ Ed.


Growing up with an alcoholic father in a dysfunctional family can be very difficult and challenging.

I don’t remember how old I was when I realized there was a problem, but I do know that I had not reached my double digits yet.

My father, the one who adopted me as an infant, was a functioning alcoholic. My mother was the enabler or co-dependent, as I later found out in life.

A “functioning” alcoholic, as was explained to me via a few years of therapy, means the person is an “alcoholic” but they are able to “function” as they normally would.

My father had a very prestigious position within one of the top companies in the state.

When he went to work, he turned on his charm and became Mr. Professional. Everyone adored him and he was well respected.

At home, his demeanor changed. He was known in my household as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.

The work week wasn’t so horrible but as Friday night neared, we all began walking on egg-shells.

We knew, Friday night mean “Friday Night Fights”. My alcoholic dad was about to “get his drink on” and the household was about to be shaken up.

Parents drinking alcohol and beer

Having an Alcoholic Father

My father, God love him because he’s all I ever knew, could be the meanest man I ever knew.

I honestly believe it stemmed back to his childhood about having an alcoholic mother and step.

He was also the younger of the two brothers and a short man. I believe insecurities played a huge role in my father’s addiction.

My uncle, my father’s only brother, never appeared to have an alcohol problem. He entered the military service as a young man and retired early.

Their family always seemed at peace and I envied that.

DO READ: How to Deal With an Alcoholic Parent

Friday Night Fights

It started with a few beers after work to unwind – sometimes at home with just our family, and other times while our visiting friends or family members.

Oh, the nights when my alcoholic father drove my mother, my brother, and me home, he used to be so drunk. There were times that my mother would drive; however, that was a “put down” in my father’s eyes. He wasn’t drunk in his eyes, and was fully capable of getting us home.

It always seemed to happen while I was sleeping. We’re talking late night hours between 10 pm – 1 am. I would often awaken by sounds of the arguments between my mother and father.

My father would always be yelling something obnoxious and slurred. My mother would be screaming and either hitting on him and trying to escape his verbal abuse.

“Friday Night Fights” was just not Friday nights. It usually became a weekend brawl.

The alcohol (beer) made my father verbally and emotionally mean. It was rare that I saw him strike my Mother, but there were a few times I do remember.

My mother would be the one attacking because she was so angry.

As a 5-12 year old child, I would always interfere and turn into the instant referee. Because it appeared that my alcoholic father was the one getting beaten on, I would take his defense.

During times of verbal accusations of my mother cheating and not being a good housekeeper, I would take my mother’s defense.

It seemed as though I was always the one to try and bring “peace” to such a dysfunctional situation.

My brother’s bedroom was upstairs in our house and he was a sound sleeper, which meant rarely did he even know what was going on. In my early years, I turned into a “light” sleeper. Always waiting for that first hint of an argument coming from my parents’ bedroom, which was right next to mine.

Growing Up

When my mother passed away suddenly, I was 12 years old. My father started dating and continued the drinking.

Nothing changed with the “Friday Night Fights” when my father remarried. I tried to warn his new wife, but she didn’t believe me. The “Fights” continued until his second wife divorced him.

My story of living with an alcoholic father continued.

MUST READ: Getting Help for Drinking Problems


Family members and friends tried to help my father with his addiction. Yes, it is an addiction and a hard habit to break.

Most alcoholics live in denial. They don’t have a drinking problem. The rest of the world is wrong so quick in accusing them.

My father was the one that would never admit he had a problem. Even after losing his leg, due to an ulcer that exploded in his stomach and the drunken car accident, which caused another ulcer to explode and eventually take his life.

How sad it is to feel helpless and watch a loved one “self-destruct”.

Denial is their survival. Until one admits that they have an addiction and they are an alcoholic, they will never seek help.


Once you, as an alcoholic admit that you have a problem, an addiction, there are many ways to seek help and overcome your addiction. An alcoholic will never be “cured”, they will always be “recovering”.

Seek a 12-Step Program Alcoholics Anonymous aka AA meetings in person or online

Rehabilitation Center – 30-day Program

Interventions – meeting of friends and family who talk to the alcoholic and try to prove to them that they have an addiction

With either of the above programs, you will need to find a sponsor. A sponsor is the one who is willing to join your program with you, someone who is responsible, and whom you can rely on.

As with any program, there are steps or rules you must follow. For addictions, whether alcohol, drugs, sex, etc., you there are the 12 Steps that you refer to as the “Rules”.

As with any “problems”, a solution may not always be obtainable. Alcoholism is a deadly disease.

If you know of someone who is an alcoholic, just remember, until they admit they have a problem, they will not be able to recover.

For more information, I highly recommend Alcoholic Anonymous. Even if you aren’t the alcoholic, there are resources available for you as a co-dependent and/or as a loved one.

Over to you –

Did you ever experience a dysfunctional childhood or family? If you had an alcohol problem, how did you overcome it? What would you suggest to alcoholic fathers or parents as solutions to their family problems? Share in the comments.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos

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75 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Mayura

    2013-08-04 at 6:00 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Wow… It’s really nice to see Bren here with such a wonderful and so personal story while educating everyone about the ways to overcome this matter. On top of all, this girlie living a wonderful life after going through terrible circumstances and hurdles in her life. Isn’t she? 🙂

    Hi Brenda,

    Woohoo… Nice to see you here. BTW I missed this post and noticed once I stop by here 😉 Here I am!

    Well, I’m fortunate enough not to experience alcoholism in that way. My father is kinda addicted. But very peaceful and talkative when he’s drunk though 😉

    I’m sorry about what you had to go through in your childhood Brenda. Well, not really. May be I should feel more sad about your story. But the things is I really feel more proud of you rather than feeling sad right now 🙂 I feel it’s really hard as a child, and admire you for not giving up. See, your new life has no functioning alcoholics around but paws everywhere 😉

    Actually, I had no idea about solutions you mentioned up there. Glad if we had more of such a programs here too. Anyway, you are exactly right about the point that it never gets better unless the person admit it! For example, doctors advised my father not to drink even wine, otherwise his health may get worse. But he think he knows better than ’em.

    I’m glad how your childhood experience turned into a very helpful post after all. For some folks, this could be more than a post 🙂

    You both have a lovely weekend, Brenda and Harleena 🙂


    • Bren Lee

      2013-08-09 at 6:01 pm

      Hi Mayura!

      I’m glad to hear you haven’t had to experience this in your life. Not all alcoholics turn nasty but the over physical affects alcohol have on the body aren’t good either. I pray that your father would try and stop.

      No reason to feel sorry for me my friend. These were the cards I was dealt and we can either let it devastate us or draw power and strength from it, learn, and move on. I chose to move on and not have that kind of life. It’s rare for me to even pick up a drink now but not because I’m afraid I might become an alcoholic but I guess I’m content in my life and don’t see a need for that “alcohol” high. As you know me more than some others here, my high comes from watching the goofy stuff Titan does. 🙂

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Mayura and sorry it’s taking me so long to reply. 🙂

  2. Arleen

    2013-08-02 at 2:49 am

    First the people that in involved with an alcoholic in their lives have to understand they didn’t can’t fix it, you didn’t cause it and you can’t cure it. Alcoholism is a disease and doesn’t mean you are a bad person. What most people do not understand that alcoholics many times have the propensity to have the problems if they have alcoholism in the family. They have a greater chance of drinking. Sometimes it is out of the control of the alcoholic unless they work at it everyday not to drink. The neurons in the brain actually make that person keep drinking. In order to cover up the drinking they will lie about everything. There are are several factors that causes someone to drink Anger, Loneliness, Boredom. It is important for the alcoholic to seek help. They need to be removed from People, Places and Things as all of these are triggers. Not saying this will cure the alchollic as it something that they have to work on for the rest of their lives.

    • Bren Lee

      2013-08-09 at 5:57 pm

      Hi Arleen and thank you.

      I have to agree with you. Alcohol is an addiction and not an easy one to break. I’ve had friends who went into 30-60 day programs only to come out and relapse over and over again. It truly is difficult but I do believe, if the will is there to quit, you continue to try and try again until you succeed.

      Thanks for sharing.

  3. Jodi

    2013-07-31 at 3:56 pm

    It’s so intense, Bren! Losing a mother that young after all you were going through must have been so hard. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to share that! But I am sure this helps people who are also going through it. I admire you for putting it out there!

    • Bren Lee

      2013-08-01 at 4:39 am

      Hi Jodi,

      I will agree, losing my Mother that young was horrible for me. It changed my life and at first, for the worse. I went into a mild depression but fighting it because I was so busy trying to be the “little woman” of the house. Still having an alcoholic in the house who didn’t know how to cope with the death of his wife, is another segment to my chapter. 🙂

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  4. Susan Neal

    2013-07-31 at 2:46 am

    Hi Bren,

    I’m full of admiration for you for sharing such a personal and painful story. I’m fortunate never to have had personal experience of this, but I’ve worked with many people with alcohol problems, in job as a mental health nurse, and I’m aware of the terrible damage it can cause. As you say, the healing can only begin when the person with the drink problem actually recognises that they need help – as long as they’re in denial, it’s very difficult. Until then, all anyone can really do is damage limitation, which must, I think, involve practical and emotional support for close family members who are affected – they’re the real victims, as you know only too well.

    Thanks for a very powerful post, Bren,


    • Bren Lee

      2013-08-01 at 4:38 am

      Hi Sue,

      Although you didn’t live in a dysfunctional family, I can imagine the degrees of alcoholism you see as a nurse. How horrible to see people waste their lives away. But it’s true, we can lecture them until we are blue in the face, until they accept and admit it or they get themselves committed, there’s really nothing we can do but try to protect them. Although I do know first hand, that is a very difficult thing today, especially when you’re angry at them.

      I believe I was given that path for a reason and maybe this is just it. Sharing it with others in hopes to help them.

      Thanks Sue!

  5. Suhas

    2013-07-30 at 4:22 pm

    Hi Bren,

    I am a regular visitors here and just like the way Harleena handle every topic. The thing you are talking about is a serious issue all over the world. Saddest part of the story is that is the problem has not changed over the years it existed.

    The thing Friday night fight might get altered to an everyday fight here in India. This is a serious social issue in India.
    You have really handled this topic to reach the depths of the issue.

    • Bren Lee

      2013-08-01 at 4:35 am

      Hi Suhas!

      I’m so sorry to hear about how bad it is in India. Truly horrifying knowing this disease/addiction is so prevalent all over the world. There are parts in the U.S. that are “daily” as well. Thankfully, I didn’t grow up in those areas but what I experienced was definitely enough.

      Thank you for sharing with us Suhas!

  6. Evelyn Lim

    2013-07-30 at 2:49 pm

    Hello Bren,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry to learn about how difficult and challenging it was for you as a child. However, I am so glad to learn that you are now turning your story into something that meaningfully make a difference to the lives of others. I wish you every love and success!

    • Bren Lee

      2013-08-01 at 4:32 am

      Hi Evelyn!

      I have nothing to hide. Some people have asked me how I could share such a personal story. It was my life and I’m not ashamed. My family knew about the alcoholism but maybe not the extent but they knew.

      I feel by sharing I may just help that one person who really needs it. 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment!

  7. Sue Price

    2013-07-30 at 2:40 pm

    Hi Bren

    Welcome to Harleena’s blog and thanks for being brave enough to share your story.

    Alcoholism is a big problem in many families. I get what you say about a functioning alcoholic as there are many. In Australia we have a drinking culture. There are not many celebrations that do not involve alcohol. While most people do it in moderation many do not.

    That driving while drunk thing is very scary. At least here now the penalties are so great most people do not do it. But some still do.

    Thanks again for sharing Bren.


    • Bren Lee

      2013-08-01 at 4:30 am

      Hi Sue and thank you!

      I see that drinking is a cultural thing outside of the United States. I wonder if alcoholism is just as bad as in the U.S. or even worse? I can understand going to a party an overdoing it a bit, but to do it weekly or nightly is just too serious for me. The drinking and driving is a bad thing however despite the harsh penalties here, once that “drunk” gets going, there goes all thoughts of rationality. Sad isn’t it.

      Thanks for stopping by Sue!

Alcoholic Dad: My Story of Living with an Alcoholic Father

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