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A letter to my children, from an addict

This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. But I know my children and the children of other addicts have questions. I will do my best to answer them. I seriously wish if you have more questions and for whatever reason, you can’t ask him or her, please feel free to email me.

I will do my very best to answer from an addicts point of view. I can’t speak for the one you love, but I can speak as an addict. We’re all pretty similar.

In preparation for this post, I re-read some things my kids typed a few months ago about how my addiction made them feel and what they thought during my active addiction. That was very difficult. Maybe one day I’ll share those things, but I’m not ready at this point. That’s difficult stuff to read. There is a great deal of hurt, confusion, pain, broken trust, fear, and other emotions.

Why do I need to answer these questions?

I am attempting to answer these questions because there are feelings I need to process for me. I need to answer these questions because they can linger in your mind, possibly leading to issues for you to deal with. There again is the ripple effect. You are dealing with consequences for choices you did not make. For that, I am sorry. So let’s jump right in.

If you’re sorry, why did you keep hurting us?

I finally stopped saying that I was sorry. I realized that it rang hollow. You have to understand that I didn’t want to be the person that I was. I didn’t even know why I used for a long time, much less how to deal with it. I literally asked God to kill me 2-3 dozen times because I couldn’t stop, and I was tired of hurting and disappointing people. I always started out with good intentions. I’ll include a link below for a more scientific explanation. Bottom line: It’s like there were 2 Gregs. Good Greg woke up early every day and firmly stated, “I am NOT using today!” Bad Greg woke up later and said, “Here’s what we’re going to do to get drugs today.” And good Greg said, “ok.” I didn’t know what I was fighting or how to fight it. I knew only that I was tired of losing the fight at every opportunity, and I preferred death to that Hell. That’s why I stopped saying sorry because I meant it 100% every single time I said it, but there was no way you’d ever believe it.

For more information on how addiction forms, check out this link.

Did it not bother you that you hurt us?

It absolutely did. This may sound like an excuse, but that is actually one of the reasons I continued to use. Every time I did something that hurt you or anybody else, I had very negative feelings. I didn’t know how to deal with those feelings. I didn’t like them. I didn’t want them there. The only way I knew how to deal with those feelings, and not hurt, was to take another drug. But every time I did, there were eventually more negative feelings, so I had to use again. I wanted so badly to stop hurting you. But I could no longer look myself in the mirror without feeling how horrible I really was, and I couldn’t handle that.

Why did you allow us to be put in bad situations (sometimes unsafe)

It was never my intention to put you in bad, scary, uncomfortable, or unsafe positions. And I believe I can speak for a great many addicts when I say that was never my desire. My brain got so focused on getting the drugs I needed that it never dawned on me you were in a negative situation. It either never dawned on me at all, or I reasoned that you were safe because you were with me. Or I believed I was invincible. Whatever the exact thought was I had at the time, I in no way believed anything bad would happen to you. But for many of you, it did. So from this addict, I’m sorry. I do not know how I can ever make it up to you.

Why did you and mommy fight all the time? It scared me and made me feel bad

We fought for a lot of reasons. ( my wife did not use, these answers might be very different if two addicts are in a relationship together) I stole money from the family. I went to places and hung around people she didn’t like. I took you places and around people she knew were not good for you. I embarrassed myself. I embarrassed my family. I created tensions between her and her family because she wanted to protect and defend me even though there was very little worth defending. I was very selfish. Even the good things I did were often seen as trying to balance out the bad I did, or make up for what I did, or build credit for future wrongs. Every good thing I did was seen as having a negative goal.

Are you better now after being in The Home of Grace?

I am really good right now. I don’t want to concern you, but my outlook now is “Make the next right decision.” I can’t focus on the endpoint or next week or next year. I have to focus on making the decision to do the right thing the next time I make a choice. If I keep making the next right choice, yes, I will remain sober and clean. But if I make a bad decision, then I can potentially relapse. That is why it is so important that I be open, honest, and transparent in all that I do. If you ever see me not being honest or open, please say something. Let me know that you noticed. Once again, that is not fair to put that burden on you, but this is a disease we have to fight together.

How do I know if you will STAY clean?

You don’t. I wish I could guarantee it somehow, but I can’t. I’ve known people that have relapsed after 20 years of sobriety. The bottom line is: I want to stay clean. I BELIEVE I will stay clean. I’m putting all of my effort towards staying clean. But can I guarantee that I will? No. I can’t even focus on that. I have to focus on doing the NEXT right thing. Relapse IS a part of recovery. It is NOT a part of recovery that we all have to experience. You can check out an earlier blog post on the subject for a more in-depth discussion at this link.

Where do we go from here?

If you have experienced the addiction of anybody, but especially a parent, you may have thought these questions and many more. Asking the questions is a very important part of YOUR recovery. If the person you knew as an addict is in recovery, then ask them any questions you have. They want you to be whole emotionally. They don’t want you to continue living in the Hell they escaped from. If the person you know is still in addiction, then write your questions down. You might save them until they get help one day. It won’t do much good to ask them now but one day it might. Write how each of the topics you discuss makes you feel and be as descriptive as possible. It might not get you answers, but I guarantee it will make you feel better even identifying the feelings. Lastly, it is always recommendable to find a good counselor. I believe a Christian counselor is the absolute best way to go, but any counselor is better than none. I never used to think I needed a counselor. I always thought I was good on my feelings, but Counselor David at the Home of Grace helped me find more healing in 10 sessions than I could’ve found in 100 years on my own. It DOES work.

Last thing

To my kids. It is NOT your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause my addiction. You couldn’t have done ANYTHING to stop it. Please don’t ever think I was an addict because of you. I was an addict because of my own hurts and hang-ups. I love you ALL.

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  1. Hi,
    That’s such a awesomely sweet letter to your kids as well as good points.
    I need your help I’m on probation and in a recovery program.but am still using 😪. I would like to know how does it work for you? I can’t seem to get the message on how to stop using. I’m homeless we live in our car and my bf also uses.

  2. That was awesome I’m an addict as well I’ve lost my daughter and most of what I had trying to rebuild but it’s soooo hard when the love of your life husband and best friend are the same person and also in active addiction how do y’all fight that demon although we soo badly need to change for our children I guess as long as you both keep trying to build each other up instead of tear each other down maybe hopefully

  3. Awesome and no truer words ever said! By Gods grace I won’t relapse on opiates but every time I try to beat the benzodiazepine I have like 7 seizures on day 2 or 3 . It is a nightmare no one can understand . God Bless you Greg for saying what I have wanted to for years! May God keep you safe and clean. Amen

  4. I need help writing a apology letter to my children

    • ME too

      • Me too!

        • Totally understand and on the same page

      • I need help writing to someone who has never used . Explaining why they should never use drugs .. and decribe the causes and effects.

      • I need help writing my daughter a letter!

  5. Great testimony thanku, it’s always good to hear from someone else’s standpoint

  6. What if I don’t want to use and decided I want to make things right with my family and they don’t believe a word I say how do I prove that

  7. I go to court April 2 2020 My daughter doesn’t want to come home shes 15 but my son he does and he is 16 please help me with a letter good enough for the judge to allow me to read to both my kids. I am clean working and staying positive! But I’m scared of losing my baby girl! Help my time is sensitive!

  8. Your letter sounded a lot like me, guess us addicts aren’t that different. I’ve been clean over a year now. I have 5 children, who I don’t know. Drugs took me away to prison. Looking back now, it saved my life. I’ve tried to make contact with my children, and I understand why they can’t forgive me. I cling to sobriety with the hopes one day I’ll get the chance to try and answer any questions they have. To maybe be a friend where I was not the mom they deserved.

  9. I am a different person than I was when my children were growing up. Most of them see and acknowledge that. But I have one son who is still filled with pain and anger. He doesn’t express what he felt and feels. He just verbally attacks me. We can’t talk at all. I want to write him a letter acknowledging different ways that I imagine my choices affected him. Can you, can anyone, please share with me any feedback from your children about how their experience affected them and made them feel? I need something to draw on. TY

  10. I need help writing an apology/explanation of addiction letter to my sons. They are 19 and 15 and they watched me turn our lives upside down. My oldest became his brothers caretaker and mine to be quite honest. I watched my grown son cry his eyes out begging me to stop using, and I never blinked an eye. I do not deserve these two but I thank God for them daily. I missed a lot, we missed a lot. I have a hard time letting go of guilt, but I am working on that . I don’t want to dwell in the past and mess up our future. I look forward to hearing from you.

    • My name is Jen I’m a 41 year old mom of 3 a son 23 a daughter 20 and another daughter 17 and a grandma to a grandson I haven’t yet because I’m a heroin addict. My kids well the older 2 don’t talk to me and haven’t for almost a year now because I was doing awesome got out of prison got a job got off parole was fixing relationships I messed up and the guy I married decided to start using meth because I was working so much and not home alot my world was amazing again and then it went to shit. He started using, tried to kill me I had to get a protective order on him and everything I had worked for almost 5 years of sober time went out the window and I gave up. I have been using again for almost 2 years I recently got in a bad car accident I shattered my pelvis and dislocated my hip and I’m in constant pain all the time im struggling with my kids being e to just write me off. My family who doesn’t take family pics ever all went and took pictures and I’m the only one who isn’t in them that really hurt. I don’t want to use anymore but I either have to use or get back on pain meds because of the car accident I don’t know what to do or even what to say to even start to mend these relationships I need help expressing things to my children and what steps to take from here thanks for taking the time to read and hopefully respond to me I appreciate it more than u will ever know ❤️

  11. I am an addict too.

    So I can tell the author of this article is fooling himself.

    “Bad Greg” wrote this article without thinking about his kids.

    Bad Greg is real Greg, until Greg decides he wants to be “good Greg”. There is no good Greg, only in your fantasy world where you can protect your addiction.

    You claim you are good Greg, protecting yourself from the consequences of being bad Greg. One consequence is shame. You act as if you are good Greg, and you have nothing to do with the shame that bad Greg has brought you. BUT THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT ENABLES YOU TO CONTINUE BEING AN ADDICT.

    When you are addicted, the only thing you want is yourself. You WANT to be the person who cares—the reality is YOU ARE NOT. If you cared, you would not feel so ashamed of yourself.

    The fact you are running away from shame is just a sign of your addiction. If you were ready to be the person who is a good father, then you would be.

    But accept that you aren’t being a good father. Writing this letter is your addiction, transfering the burden of responsibility onto your kids. You don’t want them to feel hurt, you don’t want them to blame themselves—IT IS YOU WHO DOES NOT WANT TO BLAME YOURSELF. OH, you ARE blaming yourself alright, but you don’t want to stop blaming yourself, and you ask your kids to stop instead.


    You are asking them to just magically be okay. Guess what? They do blame themselves. They blame themselves in their relationships, they blame themselves with all the people in their life. Because they are your kids. Who do you think they got that from?.

    They do it because the alternative is to blame you and not have a relationship with you.

    They blame themselves because you give them no choice when you cry about how sorry you are and how helpless you are. They blame themselves since your choice to continue with your addiction tells them that blaming YOU would be pointless.

    It wouldn’t help you to shame you. But don’t fool yourself. It is jus a shame when you are in denial of the fact YOU ARE NOT RECOVERING. You are just feeling bad and you won’t even promise them anything because you have separated yourself from responsibility by forcing it onto your kids.

    You have no right to ask them to be strong. You are asking them to do what you have failed to do: not blame yourself. TO ACT LIKE THEY HAVE A CHOICE The only thing stopping you from accepting that is your need to think you COULD be a good father. YOU ARE NOT A GOOD You are don’t want to believe you have it in you to be better. You don’t want to believe that you

    You aren’t protecting yourself from shame. You are protecting your addiction, and you tell yourself that YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE SHAME so you are free to continue IGNORING IT.

    Until you decide you want to stop being him, you are not helping your kids or anyone with this letter.

    In this letter, you wrote only about yourself. How hard it is for you. You didn’t mention how your kids felt at all.

    You told your kids, “Don’t think this. Don’t think that. Don’t feel this. Don’t feel that.”

    It is incredibly selfish of you to ask your kids to take responsibility for what you feel. You are asking them to not think or feel, because it makes YOU feel bad.

    I’m writing this to you when I really want to say it to myself. I know that…. It makes no use to be angry at myself for not seeing the truth. But I really ought to be ashamed if I ever want a hope of changing. I WANT TO BE ASHAMED. I NEED TO BECOME STRONG ENOUGH TO ACCEPT THAT I FAILED MY FAMILY.

    To my sister and grandparents: I will write you a letter in the future once I am better… at least that’s what I told myself. But that is not the reality and I don’t want to distance you anymore. My logic was that I would be there for you once I was better, but how could I be there? I am the version of me that I want to be, and I am learning that what I want is not the best thing for me.

    Lately it makes me sad when I see how I have missed so much in your lives. You tried to talk to me about your life, but I kept forgetting what was happening and I lashed out at you when you reminded me.

    It is the moments like that which my mind keeps coming back to. I wasn’t really there. But I am trying to come back to you, in those moments.

    In my mind, I think about you when I am not using, and I can clearly see how I’ve hurt you. When I am scared that I’ve hurt you or irreversibly damaged you, I feel like I will break down if I don’t do something to distract myself. But now I am starting to understand something: you became strong.

    I noticed it a long time ago but I only noticed now how much that scared me. I used to believe I was strong, and I had to protect you because you were weak.

    Now I see it was me who became weak, while you became strong. I am grateful for that. I know you became strong in part because you felt like you had to be there for me.

    It makes me so happy when I see you living your life. You tell me not to worry about you, and I finally understand that it is a burden I’m trying to shift onto you.

    What you meant by “Don’t worry about me”, is “Don’t worry for others—just FOCUS on yourself. Because you act like you aren’t worried about your life, and that worries me. I want you to be in my life. I know you know that I worry about you, but I’m not trying to say that because I know you will feel like it’s your fault. That’s why I have my friends, my work, my life—and when I tell you about these things, I’m sharing my life with you. You never share with me anymore, but that’s okay. I don’t need you to share your life with me—I WANT YOU TO KNOW YOU ARE STILL APART OF MY LIFE.”

    I will try to listen more from now on. I wish I knew more about what you think and how you feel, and hope you can tell me and I’ll listen.

  12. I need help writing a letter to my boys age 14 and 10 whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in 3years now. There Dad has been raising them and reached out to my dad to let me know if I want to call and talk to my boys I can. But I have no idea what to say or how to explain why they haven’t seen or heard from me in so long??

  13. i need help apologizing to my boys and my husband been married 31 years he’s 51 my boys ages 30,29,18,&15!

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