Follow TV Tropes

Junkie Parent

Go To

A character has a parent who is addicted to drugs.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Pichu-kun on Aug 18th 2018 at 8:05:07 AM
Last Edited By:
StrixObscuro on Dec 6th 2018 at 11:19:43 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Someone who uses drugs and is also a parent. They're usually a character's parent but sometimes they're the main character themself.

Unlike its sister trope the Alcoholic Parent, this is almost never Played for Laughs (and it's Black Comedy when it is). These types of parents are far more likely to be portrayed as Abusive Parents or neglectful parents than alcoholic parents are. Also unlike Alcoholic Parent (which leans towards fathers), this trope is more unisex (with a lean towards mothers).

Sister trope to Alcoholic Parent. Usually a subtrope of Struggling Single Mother, and often overlaps with Single Mom Stripper.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Carrie Kelley's parents are so wasted that they don't even notice when she runs away until long after she's gone.
    "Hey... didn't we have a kid?"
  • In Runaways, Karolina ended up living with a pair of junkies after her parents' death. She suspects that they probably don't even realize that she ran out on them.
  • When Batman is trying to ascertain the whereabouts of Jason Todd's parents after convincing the homeless boy to enter a live in school he discovered that Jason's mother died of an overdose after a battle with her addiction. Jason went on to become the second Robin after uncovering the illegal activities the woman running the school was using her students for and acting as a vigilante on his own to take her down.
  • In The Order, Mulholland Black's parents were drug-addicted rock stars who both overdosed when she was little.

    Film — Animated 
  • In My Life as a Zucchini, Simon's parents are both stated to be severe drug addicts, hence why he's been relegated to the orphanage.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Chiron's mother in Moonlight is an abusive and neglectful woman who is addicted to drugs. He has to turn to Parental Substitutes for love and support.
  • In The Crow, Sarah spends a lot of time running around unsupervised thanks to her mother's morphine addiction. A confrontation with Eric does prompt her to try going clean and being a parent again.
  • Harshly deconstructed in Trainspotting, where Sick Boy's baby daughter Dawn dies of starvation and neglect because both Sick Boy and Allison are heroin addicts who aren't reliable enough to look after Dawn.

    Literature 
  • A Dog's Way Home: Lucas' mother Terri was addicted to heroin when he was a kid. She was a war veteran who turned to drugs after coming back from Afghanistan. As an adult Lucas tries to put it in the past, but Terri regrets neglecting him growing up.
  • Rivers of London: Peter's father is a former junkie, enabled by his fame as a jazz legend. However, Peter isn't the most introspective of protagonists, so this really only gets spotlighted when he visits his parents — Peter's mother effectively cared for both of them through Peter's childhood.
  • Wicked: Elphaba's deceased mother Melena was a blue blood who left her riches to marry a preacher who she thought would be successful, only to end up living in the middle of nowhere. This led to a very bland life, made worse by her husband often being away. Melena was prone to chewing leaves that left her in a drugged state and often made her pass out. She also liked wine.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Cloak & Dagger (2018), Tandy's mother is an open pill-popper. Of course, Tandy herself is an addict, so she can't really give her mom too much grief about it.
  • In the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Diamond Dogs", the culprit of the week is a young man with severe anger-management issues stemming from the fact that his heroin-addicted mother has forced him into crime to fund her drug habit.
  • Two of the four children focused on in the fourth season of The Wire are stuck living with this trope. Dukie lives in poverty so abject that he makes the other children of the Baltimore slums look well off by comparison, and his parents are so hopelessly addicted that they would even steal and sell his clothes for their next fix. Michael, meanwhile, has a mother who isn't quite that bad but is certainly an Addled Addict who would thoughtlessly spend all her cash on drugs without thinking of the need for things like food. If Michael didn't make sure to look out for himself and his younger brother, things would turn out very badly for them indeed. This has resulted in Michael essentially getting a Promotion to Parent... at age 13.
  • Twin Peaks:
    • A minor character in Season 3 is a young boy who's mother is addicted to heroin. He lives next door to where Dougie meets with Jade, and is a witness to several acts of violence, such as the explosion of Dougie's car.
    • James Hurley's mother is never shown on-screen, but James mentions that she uses drugs; consequently his relationship with her is poor. James is basically raised by his Parental Substitute and uncle Big Ed, although he doesn't live at his house. All of this aids in James' characterization as the Troubled, but Cute guy from the wrong side of the tracks.
  • Sons of Anarchy: The biological mother of Jax's young son is a junkie, and this is why Jax takes their son away from her. She later cleans up her act.
  • In the American Shameless, both parents of the Gallagher clan (Frank and Monica) were drug addicts. Frank has gone through periods of withdrawal and recovery, but Monica passed away at the end of season 7.
  • Unedited Footage of a Bear: Protagonist Donna is a drug user addicted to the fictional Claridryl, while also raising two kids. Her addiction takes on the form of a cruel and abusive clone that torments her children.

    Music 
  • Sublime's "What I Got" is about the singer's carefree nature, with his mother's drug abuse being brought up in the 2nd verse.
    I don't cry when my dog runs away
    I don't get angry at the bills I have to pay.
    I don't get angry when my mom smokes pot, hits the bottle, and goes right for the rock.
  • Ludacris' song "Runaway Love" tells the story of several girls who run away from home. The first, Lisa, is a nine year old who has a neglectful, drug-addicted (and according to the music video, alcoholic) mother.

    Video Games 
  • LISA has Brad Armstrong, the adoptive father of Buddy, who is addicted to Joy. Notably, he manages to get over Joy for a bit so he can raise her, before he eventually relapses and leaves his daughter in the care of his friends.

    Western Animation 
  • In Disenchantment, Bean's stepmother Queen Oona takes snakeroot in order to "soothe her nerves". One episode sees Bean stealing her stash in order to get high.
    Luci: She has no friends. She has nothing in her life except a drug that makes her happy. Now let's go steal it!

Feedback: 29 replies

Aug 18th 2018 at 9:30:30 AM

  • Sublime's "What I Got" is about the singer's carefree nature, with his mother's drug abuse being brought up in the 2nd verse.
    I don't cry when my dog runs away
    I don't get angry at the bills I have to pay.
    I don't get angry when my mom smokes pot, hits the bottle, and goes right for the rock.

Aug 18th 2018 at 5:04:46 PM

I heard that Asuka's mom in Neon Genesis Evangelion becomes a drug abuser after her husband's death, but I don't know the details.

Aug 20th 2018 at 9:46:09 PM

Comic Books

  • In Batman The Dark Knight Returns, Carrie Kelley's parents are so wasted that they don't even notice when she runs away until long after she's gone.
    "Hey... didn't we have a kid?"

Aug 22nd 2018 at 10:26:13 AM

I'm throwing in a temporary bomb until this draft has three examples.

Aug 27th 2018 at 3:33:16 PM

Any better names? I was going to go with "Junkie Parent" but that's negative sounding.

Aug 27th 2018 at 6:50:03 PM

In The Crow, Sarah spends a lot of time running around unsupervised thanks to her mother's morphine addiction. A confrontation with Eric does prompt her to try going clean and being a parent again.

Aug 28th 2018 at 1:53:40 AM

"Junkie Parent" would sound, for the lack of a better word, nice. Though I also suggest for "Substance-Abusive Parent"?

Aug 28th 2018 at 6:26:01 PM

Live Action TV

  • In Cloak And Dagger 2018, Tandy's mother is an open pill-popper. Of course, Tandy herself is an addict, so she can't really give her mom too much grief about it.
  • In the Law And Order Criminal Intent episode "Diamond Dogs", the culprit of the week is a young man with severe anger-management issues stemming from the fact that his heroin-addicted mother has forced him into crime to fund her drug habit.

Aug 29th 2018 at 6:08:26 AM

In Batman, Jason Todd's mother was also a user I think.

Sep 4th 2018 at 12:23:30 PM

  • Unedited Footage Of A Bear: Protagonist Donna is a drug user addicted to the fictional Claridryl, while also raising two kids. Her addiction takes on the form of a cruel and abusive clone that torments her children.

Sep 14th 2018 at 11:05:31 PM

  • Two of the four children focused on in the fourth season of The Wire are stuck living with this trope. Dukie lives in poverty so abject that he makes the other children of the Baltimore slums look well off by comparison, and his parents are so hopelessly addicted that they would even steal and sell his clothes for their next fix. Michael, meanwhile, has a mother who isn't quite that bad but is certainly an Addled Addict who would thoughtlessly spend all her cash on drugs without thinking of the need for things like food. If Michael didn't make sure to look out for himself and his younger brother, things would turn out very badly for them indeed. This has resulted in Michael essentially getting a Promotion To Parent... at age 13.
  • Harshly deconstructed in Trainspotting, where Sick Boy's baby daughter Dawn dies of starvation and neglect because both Sick Boy and Allison are heroin addicts who aren't reliable enough to look after Dawn.

Sep 14th 2018 at 11:20:32 PM

Rivers Of London: Peter's father is a former junkie, enabled by his fame as a jazz legend. However, Peter isn't the most introspective of protagonists, so this really only gets spotlighted when he visits his parents — Peter's mother effectively cared for both of them through Peter's childhood.

Sep 15th 2018 at 5:11:46 AM

  • Lisa has Brad Armstrong, the adoptive father of Buddy, who is addicted to Joy. Notably, he manages to get over Joy for a bit so he can raise her, before he eventually relapses and leaves his daughter in the care of his friends.

Sep 16th 2018 at 1:22:06 PM

Would you mind moving the ''Unedited Footage" example to the Films category instead? I know it's labeled "Series" but it's actually a shortfilm- when I have the time I'll be moving that work and others to their proper namespaces.

Sep 16th 2018 at 9:51:11 PM

Comic Books

  • In Runaways, Karolina ended up living with a pair of junkies after her parents' death. She suspects that they probably don't even realize that she ran out on them.

Sep 17th 2018 at 4:02:21 AM

  • Sons Of Anarchy: The biological mother of Jax's young son is a junkie, and this is why Jax takes their son away from her. She later cleans up her act.

Sep 17th 2018 at 8:05:02 AM

Usually a subtrope of Struggling Single Mom, and often overlaps with Single Mom Stripper.

Live-action TV:

  • A minor character in Season 3 of Twin Peaks is a young boy who's mother is addicted to heroin. He lives next door to where Dougie meets with Jade, and is a witness to several acts of violence, such as the explosion of Dougie's car.

Sep 22nd 2018 at 1:31:16 PM

  • When Batman is trying to ascertain the whereabouts of Jason Todd's parents after convincing the homeless boy to enter a live in school he discovered that Jason's mother died of an overdose after a battle with her addiction. Jason went on to become the second Robin after uncovering the illegal activities the woman running the school was using her students for and acting as a vigilante on his own to take her down.

Oct 8th 2018 at 7:03:29 AM

Live Action TV

  • Twin Peaks:
    • James Hurley's mother is never shown on-screen, but James mentions that she uses drugs; consequently his relationship with her is poor. James is basically raised by his Parental Substitute and uncle Big Ed, although he doesn't live at his house. All of this aids in James' characterization as the Troubled But Cute guy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Oct 11th 2018 at 11:07:55 AM

  • Breaking Bad: Jesse receives some important character development when he goes to recover money and drugs that a pair of junkies who stole from one of his dealers and finds their neglected young son living in squalor.

Oct 11th 2018 at 4:27:40 PM

Struggling Single Mom is a red link, meaning it does not yet exist as an entry.

And, of course, it is Truth In Television for some children.

Oct 11th 2018 at 7:03:11 PM

Western Animation

  • In Disenchantment, Bean's stepmother Queen Oona takes snakeroot in order to "soothe her nerves". One episode sees Bean stealing her stash in order to get high.
    Luci: She has no friends. She has nothing in her life except a drug that makes her happy. Now let's go steal it!

Oct 13th 2018 at 11:06:47 AM

In the American Series/Shameless, both parents of the Gallagher clan (Frank and Monica) were drug addicts. Frank has gone through periods of withdrawal and recovery, but Monica passed away at the end of season 7.

Nov 28th 2018 at 7:46:02 PM

Comic Books

  • In The Order, Mulholland Black's parents were drug-addicted rock stars who both overdosed when she was little.

Film Animated

  • In My Life As A Zucchini, Simon's parents are both stated to be severe drug addicts, hence why he's been relegated to the orphanage.

Nov 28th 2018 at 7:49:30 PM

Folderize...

That last entry needs its own Western Animation section.

Nov 29th 2018 at 5:31:19 PM

Fixed the broken folder in the draft.

Top