Follow TV Tropes


Junkie Parent

Go To

And even as a crack fiend, Mama
You always was a black queen, Mama
Tupac Shakur, "Dear Mama"

Someone who abuses 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. See also Addled Addict.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Code Geass, Kallen's estranged biological mother is addicted to the Fantastic Drug Refrain, which gives users a feeling of nostalgia. She's shown sober and recovering in the final episode.
  • Metamorphosis: Played with. After Hayato abandons Saki, who by this point has developed a heroin addiction, she finds out that she's pregnant, and vows to have the baby and clean up her act. However, she can't take the withdrawal pains and starts using heroin again.

    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 (2007), Mulholland Black's parents were drug-addicted rock stars who both overdosed when she was little.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): It turns out Terry Marsh's child trafficking ring gets its "products" by buying infants off of addicted parents desperate for enough money for their next hit.

    Fan Works 
  • Beautiful Monster: Angelica's biological mother Cynthia died of a heroin overdose when Angelica was an infant. Later, it's revealed that Angelica is the way she is because Cynthia used drugs while pregnant with her.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "The New Shop In The Village", Empath as the village leader who has legalized smurfnip once it has been made safe to use without the Marijuana Is LSD-type effects has a dream where the Smurf Village has devolved into a drug-fueled Sugar Apocalypse, with even Empath's own fellow Smurfs and Smurfettes becoming junkie parents that care more about their next high than about watching after their own children.
  • Eyes on Me: Ruby's mother Aurora gets addicted to painkillers in Eternal Flame following the death of her husband and Ruby's namesake father from metastatic prostate cancer.
  • In Starlight Is For Always, Riot got into the Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll lifestyle and ended up dying of an overdose when his two kids (one with Stormer and one with Rapture) were little.
  • Mary Phillips Story: Roxy refuses to join her bandmates in their cocaine usage because she's seen what drugs did to her mother. Roxy hates her drug-addicted mother for neglecting her as a child.
  • Elphaba's mother Melena from The Love Club always used drugs, but her usage became worse after Turtle Heart left.
  • In the Jem fic Once Upon a Time was a Backbeat, Minx's mother died at 32 due to her drug addiction.

    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 a baby.
  • In Class of 1999, Cody Culp's mother is a drug addict, which just goes to show how depressed the future world is for the underclass.
  • A recurring character, Sheryl, in Boyz n the Hood is an addict whose toddlers are frequently running around unsupervised. One character narrowly saves one from getting hit by a car.
  • 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.
  • T2 Trainspotting: we see a flashback from when the crew met Begbie's dad, a homeless addict at a train station years before. Spud is trying to get clean and has a son he rarely sees but tries to do his best for.

  • 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.
  • Dorothy Must Die: Amy's mother is addicted to painkillers.
  • Defied in the memoir Heroin Story. Despite being addicted to heroin, David's both employed and a loving father.
  • Posthumous example from Ready Player One. Main character Wade's mother was a rather extreme junkie, mainly to escape the Crapsack World she lived. Ironically, Wade himself has only fond memories of her, particularly playing with her in the Oasis on his first rig.
  • 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.
  • Begbie's dad from Trainspotting is a homeless addict, that the crew encounter at an empty train station, where his quippy question about what they are looking at serves as the Title Drop.
  • 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.
  • Worm: Brian's mother is a hopeless drug addict with whom he is fighting for custody of his younger sister Aisha. The latter's personal eccentricities are implied to be the result of her mother abusing drugs while pregnant with her (though the grossly incompetent upbringing such a parent could provide certainly won't have helped,) and one of the few times Aisha is completely serious is when she's worrying about whether her mother will get pregnant again and have a kid "even more retarded than [her]."
  • In You Don't Own Me, Kendra Bell insists that her inability to properly care for her children - or herself for that matter - was because of severe post-partum depression, but many people speculate that she was actually on drugs due to her often appearing confused, lethargic and "zombie-like". The nanny Caroline says that the Bells were the only family she'd ever worked for that included a stay-at-home parent, with Kendra being unable to handle childcare most of the time and spending a lot of time sleeping. Caroline admits that while she believes Kendra did have depression, there was something seriously off with her behaviour. Kendra also refused to take a drug test on the night Martin was killed. In media coverage of her husband Martin's death, Kendra was often referred to as "Stoner Mom". Laurie eventually deduces - with Kendra confirming - that she was addicted to painkillers, but she was also seriously depressed; Kendra's own husband got her hooked on the pills to treat her depression rather than get her actual treatment. Kendra managed to get clean after Martin died, but says that she tried to hide her past addiction out of shame and because she was afraid her parents-in-law would use it to remove her children from her custody.

    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 season 2, they both decide to get clean, and start going to counseling.
  • Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story: Jeffrey's mother was addicted to pills, to the point that she was hospitalized, as shown in episode 1, where she's being wheeled away on a stretcher.
  • 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 whose 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: Wendy, the biological mother of Jax's oldest son Abel, is a junkie. She tries to stay clean while pregnant but relapses and overdoses, triggering childbirth. Jax takes full custody after Abel is born both prematurely and drug-addicted. Wendy later cleans up her act and takes full custody of both Abel and Thomas, Jax's younger son, following the death of Tara, Jax, and Gemma in seasons 6 and 7.
  • In the American version of 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 due to complications from her longtime drug abuse.
  • 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.
    • He later starts a relationship with Andrea, a single mother who is a recovering/relapsing drug addict, but unlike the barely-human pair he encounters earlier, Andrea is a Functional Addict who still manages to be a competent and loving parent.
  • 13 Reasons Why: Justin's mother is a neglectful drug addict. Her boyfriend Seth is also a drug addict who is physically abusive to Justin.
  • In The Passage, Amy's mother was a drug addict. She suffers a fatal overdose in the first episode, leaving Amy an orphan.
  • In Euphoria, Cassie and Lexi's dad developed a bad painkiller addiction after an accident severely injured him. He ultimately disappeared for good, after stealing valuables from their house.
  • In Dare Me, Beth's mom is often whacked out on painkillers as a way of dealing with her depression.
  • In season 3 of Black Lightning (2018), Lynn Stewart becomes hooked on Green Light as a way of keeping up with her demanding workload for the ASA and then has to hide her addiction from her husband and daughters.
  • On Gilmore Girls, Jess's mom (who is also Luke's sister) is this way until she's introduced as an actual character in season 4, by which time she's apparently cleaned herself up. It doesn't stop her and Jess from implying some pretty awful things about his childhood, though.
  • In The Bernie Mac Show, Bernie and his wife, Wanda, gain custody of his sister's kids, Vanessa, Jordan, and Brianna, because their mother was forced into rehab due to her severe drug addiction, which was so bad that Vanessa, the eldest sibling who was thirteen at the beginning of the series, was essentially running their household before Bernie was given custody. In one episode the family goes back to Chicago for a visit, and when they went to the rehab, Bernie's sister broke out and wasn't found until after the family went back to Los Angeles.
  • The Wire: Duquan's parents will sell his clean school clothes on the streets to earn a quick buck for a fix, and Michael and Bug's mother is also a heroin addict, which is why Michael handles the family's finances.
  • Feel Good: Maggie, mother of Lava/Laura, is a former drug addict. She had Laura while using, and she'd named her "Lava" while high. Laura hated this and so changed it later.

  • 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.
  • "The Sins of a Family" written by P. F. Sloan and recorded by Barry Mc Guire.
  • Tupac Shakur:
    • In "Dear Mama" (quoted above), Tupac Shakur mentions his mother’s drug abuse, but despite this, she was always there for him.
    • Brenda from "Brenda's Got A Baby" has a bad home life with a neglectful, drug-addicted father and an equally (if not more so) neglectful mother. This leads her to look for affection elsewhere, specifically in an older cousin who gets her pregnant at twelve.
  • "Mother's Little Helper" by The Rolling Stones (Band) is about a mother addicted to Valium.
  • Eminem's mother was addicted to Valium and, having Münchausen Syndrome, used to feed them to her sons to make them sick. Many of his songs reference this, usually in the context of Slim Shady's Hilariously Abusive Childhood.
    • "My Name Is":
      Slim: 99% of my life, I was lied to. I just found out that my mom does more dope than I do.
      I told her I'd grow up to be a famous rapper, make a record about doing drugs, and name it after her.
      Mom: (Oh, thank you!)
    • Eminem made good on that promise ten years later, by making a record about doing drugs called "My Mom".
      My mom loved Valium, and lots of drugs. That's why I'm on, what I'm on - 'cause I'm my Mom!
    • "Cleaning Out My Closet":
      But put yourself in my position, just try to envision
      witnessin' your mama poppin' prescription pills in the kitchen
      Bitchin' that someone's always goin' through her purse and shit's missin'
      Goin' through public housing systems, victim of Münchausen's Syndrome
      My whole life I was made to believe I was sick when I wasn't
      'Til I grew up, now I blew up, it makes you sick to your stomach, doesn't it?

  • Mrs. Teavee in the Broadway production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
    Klonopin, Ativan, Paxil, and Valium
    I need a pill just to sit down and tally 'em
    - "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"
  • In Jasper in Deadland, Jasper's Dad is addicted to Percocet pills.

    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.
  • In Fallout 4, Cait's parents were junkies who sold her to Raiders when she was a kid (and it's strongly implied she was that kind of slave). After she got free of the gang, she took revenge on them but the act still haunts her.

    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!
  • White-trash neighbor kids Ben and Kenny on F is for Family have at least one of these "raising" them:
    Kenny: "That fish looks like mama after she takes her arm vitamins."