Addiction and Parenting

     Every Sunday night, AMC had a “Breaking Bad Binge” marathon. This is one of my absolute favorite shows of all time, so I just HAD to watch. It doesn’t matter that I have seen every episode three or four times, it is just one of those shows. One of the episodes that aired last night was one where Jessie has to go over to the house of a couple of meth addicts who had robbed one of his dealers, Skinny Pete. He goes to their house, gun drawn, ready to recoup his money. Upon breaking into the house and searching for the husband and wife duo, who are not home at that time, he discovers their son. The boy is filthy, watching an infomercial on knives because they do not get any other channels on their old ass television set. The first thing he says to Jessie is, “I’m hungry.” It is heartbreaking and difficult to watch.

       Eventually, the little boy’s parents arrive home with meth and dope (and an ATM that they boosted out of. a continence store). Jessie repremands the parents telling them to give the child a bath and a hot meal, on which the mother says, “Give me a hit and I’ll be any kind of mother you want me to be.” Jessie ends up calling the police when he leaves and places the child on the front porch so that he can be taken into foster care.

       As a woman who was in active addiction and a mother at the same time, I had very mixed feelings about this episode. Not just “Breaking Bad” either, there is a general consensus that addicts are horrible parents. Now, I do believe that there are some people who completely neglect their children in order to get high. Just the other day a couple in Baltimore County who was arrested after a maid at the hotel they were staying in walked into their room to clean it and found what she thought was a two year old alone, laying on the kitchen. The parents were out looking for another hotel. The child was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that even though the doctors, nurses, cops, and the maid all thought that he was two, he was actually six. He was just that malnorished. I do not know if this couple was using drugs. Sadly, there are a lot of people who neglect and abuse their kids, and addiction is not to blame.

        Most of the addicts that I know have children. Not all of them have full custody of them, but all of them would die for their children. I have heard stories of people hiding drugs on their children or spending their kids food money to get high, but these stories are not the norm. These are just the stories that stand out. 

       When I was in active addiction, my kids never missed a meal. I never sold the food stamps and bought drugs, leaving no money to feed them. They never missed school. They were always bathed, got new clothes, dolls, toys, whatever. Usually I would stay home with the kids while my husband went to cop. We didn’t get high in front of them.

       I truly believe that this is more normal. Most couples that we knew where both people got high, and they had kids, would keep one parent at home with the kids while the other went out to get money or the drugs. Addicts are not the monsters that people portray them to be. We are people which have a disease, but we still love our children.

        Most addicts with children are motivated by their children to get sober. I do feel that I am most definatley a better mother sober. Most of that has to do with I have more energy to go above and beyond. I do not need dope to be well enough to play on the playground. I do not have to hold back vomit if I make them breakfast before I get well. You see, I may have done everything before, but it was almost as though Imwas just going through the motions. Now, I can put 100% of my energy into my children. 

      I would never, ever begin to suggest that it is ideal for a parent to be an addict. I am just saying that despite episodes like. “Breaking Bad” that portray addicted parents as these monsters who will just leave their small children alone for hours or days on end. My children have never been home alone a day or hour in their lives. Drugs never clouded or inhibited my love for my children. I feel that most parents, whether addicted to drugs or not, would die for their children at the drop of a hat if it was needed.


4 thoughts on “Addiction and Parenting

  1. I love Breaking Bad too. And I agree that that episode was over the top. The people I’ve known who were active addicts with kids loved them to death, and care for them the best they could while coping with their addiction and usually poverty as well. To exaggerate the situation is harmful. Addicts already have so much prejudice to overcome, they don’t need that on top of it. Thanks for writing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. It only adds to the guilt that an addict oreads feels. Sort of like, “Maybe I really am this bad of a parent. Everyone seems to think that I am”. Perception very often becomes reality.


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