'I was an alcoholic mother'

Niki Shisler

Journalist and author Niki Shisler, from London, sought help for her alcoholism when she realised she could no longer take care of her son.

“I was never a binge drinker. I was very much a 'maintenance' drinker. I was drinking round the clock. My friends afterwards all said, 'We never saw you drunk,' and I told them, 'No, you actually never saw me sober.'

"At first, like most people, I enjoyed alcohol. There's a reason why you get addicted to something. It's because it's fun at first.

"It's hard to say when I crossed the line from social to problem drinking but by the age of 32 it had reached a point where I'd find myself sitting in the bathroom at 8.30am pouring hidden vodka into a cup of tea.

"Once you get to that stage, denial becomes impossible. Nonetheless, even then it took some time to find the courage to deal with the problem.

"It's hard to face up to the shame of something like that, especially when none of the people around you know how bad it is. I was very good at hiding my drinking.

"I had my first son, Joey, when I was 24 and split with his father a year later. My next relationship, and the one where my drinking really took off, was abusive and violent.

"I tried to shelter Joey from the worst of it, but there's no doubt that on occasion he saw things he shouldn't have. He saw me get hurt physically, as well as all the emotional abuse I got.

'So unhappy'

"By the time he was seven, Joey was pretty much living with my mother full-time. I had split with my partner by this point, but it was my inability to care for Joey that was the final spur to get me into recovery.

"A few days after my 33rd birthday I was going over to visit Joey at my mum's and as I started to walk towards her house, I got the feeling in my throat that I was going to cry. I could feel the tears rising, almost like I was going to be sick. As soon as I got in the door, I burst into tears.

"I was sitting on the floor with my mum, crying and just saying over and over, 'I'm just so unhappy'. That was the point when my mum said, 'Why don't you phone Alcoholics Anonymous?' I went to my first meeting that evening and I haven't had a drink since.

"Joey was eight when I got sober. I moved in with my mum rather than uproot him. I had to rebuild my relationship with him, to make him understand that I wasn't going to let him down again, and that he could trust me.

"I don't miss alcohol, but I do miss the taste and experience. I miss having a nice crisp rosé on a lovely summer's day, or a really nice glass of wine when you're having a great Sunday roast. I can never have another drink. It's never too late, but the sooner you tackle your problem the better."

Page last reviewed: 24/10/2014

Next review due: 24/10/2016


How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 49 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating


The 7 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Welsh94 said on 11 November 2013

I am currently 19 years of age and all I think about when I see this, is that I wish my mother would do this for me. She has been an alcoholic for pretty much all of my life, and it's come to the point she annoys me and just makes my blood boil with hate. She has done nothing to try and become a better person, she has embarrassed me in front of friends, boyfriends and other members of family. Thank god your child does not have to go through that, I highly respect what you've done to become a better parent.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

L Edwards said on 09 May 2013

I'm a father of two beautiful kids aged 11, and 2. For the majority of the eleven years my eldest has been around me, I have always been under the influence of one, or more, of my addictions.

I have hopefully reached that point where I will stop being selfish and put the needs of my kids first. Drinking, like most things that brings one pleasure, in my opinion is a choice not to deal with Life and It's responsibilities.

Bless x

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Evora said on 12 February 2012

It can get too late.

My mother was an alcoholic for the 23 years of my life. At one point I asked my family and eventually her if it were my fault she began drinking. She was 25 when she had me. She was a woman full of life. And I though with me being born I stopped everything. But turns out not at all. She was just with the wrong people and partying more than she should. And eventually she drank more than she worked and looked after me. And soon after it consumed her.

By the young age of 47, she died from over consuming it. She had been to rehab and whatever. But it still killed her. At least you did something about it before it killed you too and left your son thinking it was his fault.

I'm 24 with 2 very gorgeous baby daughters but I don't have her in my life. And neither in theirs. Life remains, however. And strangely, I cannot handle the taste of alcohol!

Well done, however, on giving up!! xxxx

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

kw23 said on 02 March 2010

I am reading this and I can only think of your son. I am what they refer to as the child of an alcoholic parent. I am in my late 30's and my mother drank everyday of my childhood. I do not have a single recollection of her not being an alcoholic. She has gone through several treatment programs only to fail each time. I never had a close relationship with friends and a girlfriend was out of the question until I moved out. I would come home from school to find her passed out with a large empty bottle beside her.

The scars are deep and may never heal for me. That is why I am writing to you. Please keep up the good work. I know it is a daily struggle and it is the worst demon that may afflict any individual. I am proud that you had the insight to make this change. Keep battling your demon, one day at a time.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

User78197 said on 05 January 2009

Congratulations on quitting! That is a huge start. The hardest thing about addiction is going through the drug treatment center process. I hated that. I haven't drank for over 3 years now. I know it doesn't sound that long, but I am only 22 years old. I've had many bad experiences with my problem, some of them life altering. So I just wanted to say congrats!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

tracy g said on 23 June 2008

you have done so well drink is a hard thing to leave behind. i didn't start drinking till i was in an abusive relationship and now i have left him and my kids are really happy.having fun with mum without me having a drink. x

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

random112222 said on 10 June 2008

well u should think of the kids really and try not to get drunk in front of thm

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

NHS Choices links

External links

Services near you

Find addresses, phone numbers and websites for services near you

Media last reviewed: 07/08/2014

Next review due: 07/08/2016

'My drinks diary shock'

When Patrick Greene kept a drinks diary for a week he was shocked to realise how much he was really drinking

Water and drinks

Find out how much you need to drink and how to choose healthier soft drinks