Famous People Describe What It's Like To Grow Up With An Alcoholic Parent

Celebrities have things easy in some respects; they're surrounded by glitz and glamour, they rarely lack money or financial security. In terms of more sinister subjects, though, A-listers struggle with some of the same issues that affect their fans. Alcoholism, for example, has destroyed countless families and even celebrity status can't protect a child whose parent struggles with the disease. Various celebrities have been able to use their platforms to talk about alcoholism and spread awareness about it because they've witnessed its detriment firsthand.

Many of those celeb tales feature parental abuse and eventual estrangement from the afflicted parent. Some of the more dire lead to irreparable tragedy, like in Charlize Theron’s case. Not all of these celeb-relayed stories end poorly. Kelly Osbourne actually forgives previously addicted Ozzy Ozbourne; she doesn't blame him for her own personal battle with substance abuse. 

Whether famous or not, children of alcoholics often suffer life-long scars that don't always heal. Unfortunately, some of those children will struggle with the same addictions that plague their predecessors but talking about one's pain can sometimes bring closure. Keep reading to learn about some celebrities' experiences with this very issue.

  • Halle Berry
    Photo: Simone / Golden Glimpse

    The Academy Award winning actress revealed in 2013 that she has been in therapy for over 30 years, since she was about 10 years old. Berry initially sought treatment to help her cope with the lingering effects of father Jerome Berry's alcoholism and domestic violence.

    "My father was an alcoholic and a very abusive one and my mother knew the value of providing me with the outlet of an unbiased person to talk to," Berry explained. "[Therapy] really helped me deal with stuff."

    • Age: 57
    • Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  • Charlize Theron
    Photo: charlizeafrica / Instagram

    When the Academy Award-winning actress was 15 years old, Charlize Theron's mother shot her father in self-defense. During a 2017 interview with Howard Stern, Theron explained that living with domestic violence and an alcoholic parent was incredibly traumatic. It negatively impacted her ability to be a child.

    "I think what more affected me for my adult life... was more the everyday [life] of a child living in the house with an alcoholic and waking up not knowing what was going to happen... Not knowing how my day was going to go and all of it dependent on somebody else and whether he was not going to drink [was challenging]."

    • Age: 48
    • Birthplace: South Africa, Benoni, Gauteng
  • Drew Barrymore
    Photo: Read It There Now / BlogSpot

    The former child star had a drinking problem at the age of 11 and became a drug addict by the age of 13. Her father, John Barrymore, has been described as a violent alcoholic and he was emotionally unavailable. Her father never lived with her and her mother pushed her into the world of acting. Drew has often talked about how her parents' behavior affected her.

    “When I was 13, that was probably the lowest... Just knowing that I really was alone. And it felt... terrible. It was a really rebellious time. I would run off. I was very, very angry... Once I really asked myself, ‘What are you angry with?’ I dropped the anger... And it’s like, OK, cos my parents weren't there, who gives a sh*t? Lots of people don’t have parents. They were gone, they couldn't handle any of it, and I get it.”

    • Age: 48
    • Birthplace: Culver City, California, USA
  • Nicki Minaj
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    The rap star experienced many tragedies during her childhood. Her father Robert Minaj was an abusive crack addict and alcoholic who set the family house on fire while the star and her mother were inside. Minaj describes how scary it sometimes was for her..

    "[There was] a lot of arguing, lots of screaming; there were holes punched into the walls in anger and cops being called to the house all the time... I was afraid, very afraid that something would happen to my mother."

    • Age: 40
    • Birthplace: Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago
  • Rihanna
    Photo: flickr / CC0

    It took a while for Rihanna to open up about her experiences with a father who was addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine. She was ultimately able to look at father Ronald Fenty and learn from his mistakes but his actions were still detrimental.

    "My dad was part of that sixties generation who took drugs as a matter of course... But his partying got way out of hand, spiraled out of control... My dad left home when I was nine so I was really young when I was living with his addictions. I didn't understand exactly what was going on but I knew he was doing something he shouldn't be... Even when I started to understand, I looked up to my dad so much that I couldn't put him and this negative thing together... It was only in my teenage years that I started to get angry at him, maybe even hated him. Because I started to realize that no child should have to experience what I’d been through."

    • Age: 35
    • Birthplace: Barbados, Saint Michael Parish
  • Adele
    Photo: Marc E. / Wikimedia Commons

    The "Someone Like You" singer revealed in her 2012 biography that she struggled with alcohol abuse early in her career. Her father left the family before then, when Adele was only three years old. Adele wrote that her father was an alcoholic and that his drinking almost killed him.

    She stated in the bio that their relationship was "dead and gone."

    • Age: 35
    • Birthplace: England, London