Lessons and Directions

for the Child of an Alcoholic Parent

Allison Fox


Get a sturdy lock box. 

This is where you will hide the bulk of household pills,

count them,

while reminding him for the fifth time of the day,

count them, 

that he needs to take his dose 

of the ones he is supposed to be on. 


Get him to bed.

This is when you will check 

how many bottles of alcohol are on the shelf, 

count them, 

while comparing them to last week’s, 

count them, 

and dumping them down the drain 

when there is too much missing. 


Get a list. 

Bars open, liquor store hours, gas stations that don’t card, 

avoid them. 

Local AA connections, counselors, Grandpa’s phone number, 

cheap apartments for sale, 

count them. 

Collect the resources to survive, 

whether it’s you or him first. 


Get an alibi. 

When the school guidance counselor 

pulls you in for the third time, 

count them, 

and asks you,

“Everything okay at home?”, 

avoid them. 

Tell her you were only crying 

because you were embarrassed 

from being picked up from school sick, 

not because he came in drunkenly screaming 

to sign you out. 


Get some sleep. 

This is important, 

because you will spend too many nights, 

count them, 

awake until 4 in the morning, 

too scared to go to sleep before him, 

and when he finally does, 


count them again. 


The hidden pills, 

the prescription pills,

the bottles of liquor, 

count them. 

You will wonder 

if it would just be easier 

to join him, 

avoid it.

Allison Fox is an undergraduate English major with a minor in Creative Writing at Kent State University.