Bobbi Kristina Brown: In Her Mother’s Footsteps - The Discovery House Los Angeles CA
Bobbi Kristina Brown: In Her Mother’s Footsteps

Bobbi Kristina Brown: In Her Mother’s Footsteps

Whitney Houston poses with Bobbi prior to her death
Credit: Kevin Mazur/AMA2009/WireImage

It seems like she never had a chance. Born to two crack-addicted parents, Bobbi Kristina Brown, who died July 26, 2015, most likely was not taught the life-skills needed to overcome her genetics and her environment. Even without the complication of substance abuse, growing up with famous parents would have been challenging; with both parents using drugs, life was that much harder.

Brown’s companion, Nick Gordon, has been quoted as saying that they had been doing drugs before he found her unresponsive and not breathing in their bathtub on January 11. It has been reported that she regularly used alcohol, heroin, cocaine and Xanax in the months before then and that she had been “in and out” of drug rehab in the three years since her mother died. With the anniversary of her mother’s death approaching on February 11, Brown was particularly susceptible to mind-numbing drugs to escape her emotional pain.

Raising a family while high

According to the Federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, there are over 2.5 million women in the U.S. currently struggling with alcohol or drug addiction and approximately 12 percent of their children live with at least one parent who is drug or alcohol dependent.

A parent in this condition is considered unable to deal with all of her children’s physical needs. Even when a child can access food and water or get themselves to school and back, an addicted parent like Houston is most likely unable to meet her child’s emotional and intellectual needs, needs which ought to be filled by sober, aware adults.

According to a National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) study, 19.5 percent of all alcoholics, nearly four million people, are “functional” people who maintain careers, raise a family and have plenty of friends, yet continue to abuse alcohol or drugs. These individuals are very adept at disguising their abuse because the outer trappings of their lives indicate success. When questioned about their drug use, a high-functioning addict may vehemently deny that a problem exists and make greater efforts to hide their drug or alcohol use rather than agree to treatment.

Whitney Houston obviously doted on her daughter. The use of drugs and alcohol and the behaviors they may elicit, do not mean that a parent does not love or care for her children, though that may be very difficult for a child to understand. This is one of the reasons parenting under the influence does such damage.

Women’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse on the Rise

Among women, both alcohol and drug abuse are on the rise. The number of women ages 30 to 44 who report abusing alcohol has doubled over the past decade, while prescription drug abuse has sky-rocketed 400 percent since 1999, according to a federal study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). We increasingly hear about moms who use alcohol or drugs to relieve mounting pressures at work.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that about 2 percent of mothers with children living at home have reported symptoms meeting the clinical criteria for drug abuse or dependence. The drugs include sedatives like Xanax, stimulants like Ritalin and opioid painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin with opioids being the biggest problem. But perhaps the biggest contributor to prescription drug addiction is the assumption that the medicines aren’t harmful. Many people see drugs such as heroin as “bad” and drugs like Vicodin as “okay” because they were given a stamp of approval by the FDA, prescribed by a doctor and purchased at a pharmacy.

However, the active ingredients in heroin and opioid painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin are essentially the same. They work very quickly on your brain, releasing the pleasure-boosting chemical dopamine. If you keep taking them, your tolerance could increase and you’ll need more and more of it to achieve the same effect, eventually hooking you, sometimes in only a few months.

If Mom Has a Problem, So Do Her Kids

If Mom has a problem, kids often have a problem, too. “When moms drink or use drugs, it can have a big impact on children, greater than when dads drink,” says E. Mark Cummings, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame. “Mothers are usually more involved in kids’ lives, so their drinking or drug abuse causes bigger family adjustment problems.”

“Drinking problems run in families,” says Dr. Cummings, adding that the research isn’t clear on whether this is primarily due to genetics, watching parents drink or both. And if a mom is drinking or doing drugs, she’s far less likely to be on guard about her child’s vulnerability toward such substances and to warn about their risks.

Mothers who drink or use drugs are prone to mood swings and unpredictable behavior. They’re more likely to become angry. They’re more inclined to be punitive toward their kids than women who don’t have substance abuse problems. This can keep kids off balance, confused and scared. Drug addicted mothers create a dangerous and toxic home environment for their children, and one which is likely to continue the cycle of addiction, passing the behavior patterns on to future generations.

“Mothers are the maternal guardian of the family unit,” notes David DeQua, program director of The Discovery House, a residential drug and alcohol treatment center in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.  “The influence of mothers is long lasting and very generational. We know that individual development is essential for healthy families since families are the building blocks of the community and communities formulate societies. When we look at the concept of mother from this global perspective, we see a huge responsibility to model behavior that is congruent to human excellence. It all begins with individual accountability.”
The Discovery House utilizes a variety of treatment programs that allow each client to receive the individualized care they deserve. The pet friendly Southern California rehab center offers a variety of inpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs to help drug addicts and alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety.

Each client at The Discovery House receives customized care to end their dependence on prescription drugs, heroin and other opiates and/or alcohol in order to live a clean and sober life. To learn more about The Discovery House, visit or call (855) 203-7930.

Do you think Bobbi Kristina could have overcome her personal problems with the appropriate treatment? Do you or a loved one have experience with multi-generational drug addiction? Please share with us on Facebook or Twitter @TDHRehab #AddictionTreatment