Alcoholic Mother: What to do?

For a child, living with an alcoholic mother means experiencing insecurity, incomprehension and sometimes violence. “A child forced to live with an alcoholic mother experiences a constant emotional roller coaster. Sometimes, the day following the mother’s drunken episode, the child will have to console her, reassure her and help her feel less guilty” explains Terry Pomerantz.

If, that morning, the child actually manages to get to school, he or she will be filled with a deep sense of fear and guilt. “Maybe I should not have left my mom alone. Will she be home when I get back? What state will she be in?”

Understanding the situation

To know how to support an alcoholic mother, one must begin by understanding the situation. The causes for alcoholism are numerous, and can be psychological, physical and social.

The causes and consequences of a mother’s alcoholism

Among the main causes behind a mother’s alcoholism, there is:

  • Poor self-esteem
  • A deterioration of the relationship with one’s spouse, like divorce
  • A difficult financial situation
  • Chronic pain
  • Stress at work
  • The threat of getting evicted from one’s home.

In order to release the emotional tension she is feeling, the mother with increase her alcohol intake, both in terms of frequency and quantity. Being drunk sparks episode of joy within her, alternating with periods of deep sadness. The child becomes lost in the unpredictable movement of this emotional roller coaster.


As time passes and the alcoholic episodes increase, the mother is slowly abandoned by the people who surround her. Powerless against her behaviour, close ones begin distancing themselves, thus isolating the mother and her children more and more.

What a child feels when dealing with an alcoholic mother

What a child feels when having to live with an alcoholic mother is no walk in the park:

  • Insecurity, worry, fear, anxiety,
  • Sadness,
  • Guilt and shame,
  • Anger and even hate,
  • Insomnia, hyperactivity,
  • Trouble concentrating,
  • Problems at school,
  • In extreme circumstances, the child will have delinquent behaviours and addiction problems too.

Recognizing the signs

            Behaviours and symptoms of an alcoholic mother

People who have issues with addiction to alcohol are extremely emotional. Overcome by feelings that are too intense, they turn to alcohol as a form of release, which includes generating feelings of freedom and surpassing oneself. Alcoholic mothers generally feel restricted by problems in their relationship with their spouse, financial problems or professional challenges that are too difficult to handle.

Understanding the behaviours of an alcoholic mother can allow relatives and friends to identify solutions that can be helpful. The most frequent symptoms of alcoholism are manifested in:

  • Mood swings
  • Agressivity, anxiety, sadness
  • Inward-looking attitudes
  • Loss of appetite, problems sleeping
  • Relationship problems with close ones and her own children
  • Bottles hidden throughout the house
  • An urgent need for alcohol
  • More and more time dedicated to drinking alcohol which can lead to showing up late for work, at daycare when it is time to pick up the kids, trouble getting meals ready, etc.
A woman with an alcoholic beverage drinks a bottle of wine alone.

How to act with an alcoholic mother?

Open and Emphatic Communication

It is very important not to harass a person with an addiction problem. This attitude will block all communication efforts. The person will get defensive, deny they have a problem, and it will cause them to isolate even more.

It is important to broach the subject by speaking of one’s own emotions, like how we feel about seeing her in such a state, for example. It is important not to preach or criticize. It is important to speak about your own emotions and pain. The mother will then understand that the people she loves are worried about her.

To promote open communication with an alcoholic mother, specialists suggest:

  • Finding a place where you will not be interrupted.
  • Talking about the negative impact of alcohol consumption on the most important people in her life, like her children and you.
  • Staying calm.
  • Adopting a positive and respectful tone of voice.
  • Showing compassion when she opens up.
  • When the conversation becomes favorable, suggesting tested and true treatments and support groups.

To foster open and empathic communications, suggesting family activities that promote cohesion and bonding might be relevant.

Offering Emotional Support

Helping your mother means treating her like a responsible adult. Ask for her help any time you need her. She will begin healing from her dependence to alcohol the day she will say: “I drank my last glass, it’s over”. This sentence, which you may have heard often in the past, will be coupled with a concrete gesture, meaning that your mother will now reach out for support to overcome her addiction.

Specialized Resources to Get Help

There are several resources that can help your mother control her illness. Here are just a few:

               Le Portage, Mother & Children Center

               Alcoholic Anonymous

               Maison Jean Lapointe

               EnSobre ta vie

               A new beginning

Child's hand giving a glass of water to his mother, isolated on a white background

In some situations, family therapy can help repair and reinforce family relationships that may have been damaged by alcohol.

Terry Pomerantz concludes: “When a mother embraces the path to healing, the whole family heals with her. Bonds get stronger between all members of the family.”

Since it was created, the Pomerantz Foundation has supported organizations like the West Island Women’s Shelter and the Berman Yaldei Developmental Center.

Terry Pomerantz invites you to add your generosity to volunteers’ efforts and actions, who operate within the organizations that the Pomerantz Foundation supports.

Entrepreneur and prominent figure in Montreal's real estate and manufacturing sectors, Terry Pomerantz approaches every aspect of life with heart and character. At the helm of Domfoam and T.R.A.M.S Property Management, he carries on his late father's legacy while dedicating his philanthropic commitment to the Pomerantz Foundation, which has been actively supporting children's causes since 1991.