Life Advice



Ask Amy: Mom’s addiction and abuse roils household

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My mom drinks. When my brothers and I were young (we are all in our 20s now), her drinking wasn’t too bad. It got much worse after her mother died 15 years ago, and steadily worse with COVID-19. She is also a heavy cigarette smoker.

When she is drunk, she becomes very verbally abusive, and sometimes physically abusive.

She tells me that I am a worthless person, stupid, and that no one will ever love me. I tell her that this hurts me — and she laughs.

I try to walk away, but she will corner me. She goes after my brother and dad as well (our younger brother lives in another state).

My dad does nothing about this, which is understandable. My older brother lives with them full time. He just laughs it off and does not confront the problem.

I don’t know what to do. I moved back home a few months ago to help out.


I am at my wits end. She is making me dislike her, and now I am also afraid of her. I don’t want to feel this way about her. She is my mom. I want to help her.

— Scared of Mom

Dear Scared: You might assume that your father is doing his best to keep his head down and stay out of the line of fire, but you deserve 1. not to be abused and 2. to have a parent try to protect you. I assume that you are absorbing some of the drunken abuse that your father and brother endured before your arrival.

Realistically, you cannot force your mother toward recovery, but you can attempt to confront her with the grave impact her drinking has on you.


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