- Dealing with an Alcoholic Son or Daughter: What to Do in Crisis Mode
- Protect your Family First, then Find a Way to Help Your Child
- How to Help Your Alcoholic Son or Daughter & Your Family
- Choose Empathy Over Enabling
- Differences Between Helping and Hurting
- Begin Looking for a Treatment Center, then Ask the Right Questions
- Questions to Ask Alcohol Treatment Centers
- Talk to Someone Who’s Found a Way to Help Their Alcoholic Child
- Find Time to Help Yourself While Helping Your Alcoholic Child
- Contact Sober College Today
- When a parent drinks too much alcohol — What kids want to know
- What does it feel to drink alcohol? How does it feel to be drunk?
- Why am I so confused about how I feel? Why do I worry so much?
- Why is the alcohol problem a secret?
- Can my mom or dad stop drinking so much? Can people get better?
- Is there anything I can do to make my mom or dad better?
- Why do people drink so much when they know it will hurt them or others?
- Whom can I talk to? Where can I go to for help? What do I do if I don’t feel safe?
- When I grow up, will I have an alcohol problem too?
- What can I do so that I don’t ever have an alcohol problem?
- Coping When a Parent Has an Alcohol or Drug Problem
- What's it to Live With a Parent Who Has a Substance Use Problem?
- What Can I Do?
Dealing with an Alcoholic Son or Daughter: What to Do in Crisis Mode
The holidays are not exempt from the damage alcoholism can inflict. In fact, this time of year can be more problematic for those who struggle with alcohol abuse due to its very nature.
The emphasis on family, friends, coming together, and sharing special moments can be particularly difficult for both those with addiction and their loved ones. While the holidays are a time for togetherness, it can also be a painful reminder of the toll alcoholism can take on families and friends.
For those who are dealing with an alcoholic son or daughter, the holidays, many other days, can be increasingly challenging as time goes on.
Addiction can make a person feel isolated, and this feeling often transcends to those around them. Depictions of happy and harmonious home lives can amplify feelings of stress and fear surrounding one’s own life.
Addiction has a way of making people feel as though they are the only ones experiencing it, when in fact, countless people go through similar situations every day. Feelings of anxiety surrounding a son or daughters use of alcohol are normal, and it is okay to be afraid of what the future may hold.
Parents may ask themselves, “How can I help my alcoholic son?” “How can I help my alcoholic daughter?” Or maybe, they are not 100% sure that their child is struggling with alcoholism but their drinking is a cause for concern. It places a strain on them and their other family members.
Although this mix of emotions is completely natural, it is important to not let it supersede everything else and control your life. There are ways to address these problems in a productive, healthy way.
Protect your Family First, then Find a Way to Help Your Child
While a great deal of time and energy will be spent trying to help your child overcome alcoholism, it is important to not lose sight of other family members who are impacted by it.
It is important to protect your family members from the potential consequences of your child’s addiction.
Alcoholism can put loved ones at risk for physical or emotional trauma, making it critical to protect your family’s needs.
How to Help Your Alcoholic Son or Daughter & Your Family
To better help your child, there are numerous ways you can minimize exposure to triggers and keep them safe. This can also help protect other family members. Some of these may include:
- Cutting out toxic people: People who make your child feel bad about themselves can lower their self-esteem and make them more ly to relapse. People who take advantage of them, who misuse substances with them, or enable bad behaviors should have all ties cut.
- Stay away from enabling environments: In addition to cutting out enabling peers, it is important to avoid places where substance abuse took place. Being in bars, clubs, or other hangout areas where substance abuse took place can rouse cravings and serve as a trigger.
- Engage in new activities: Finding new hobbies or interests can help minimize the lihood of crossing paths with enabling people or situations. This will allow them to explore new places, meet new people, and find happiness in new things.
- Consider having them change their number: This is an easy action to take that can help them stay sober. Old friends will have a harder time reaching them. Breaking contact is an important piece of recovery.
- Minimize social media: This can be difficult for teens and young adults, but it is another way they may stay in touch with enabling friends. Encourage them to clean up their list of friends and remove (or even block) people who may pressure them into bad situations.
Choose Empathy Over Enabling
Sometimes, it can be difficult to discern between empathy and enabling. While some actions you may take seem the right thing to do, it can often enable destructive behaviors and prolong the problem.
Situations your child needing money, potentially losing housing, or being in jail can make it seem a cut and dry decision.
It is often first instinct to help or to bail them a bad situation, but this often does not allow someone to realize the consequences of their actions.
Differences Between Helping and Hurting
Empathy and enabling can often go hand-in-hand. Both tend to come from a place of compassion and from a desire to help. The difference, however, is in the outcomes. Enabling allows self-destructive behaviors to continue, which further perpetuates rather than solving the problem. This can come in many forms:
- Giving someone money so they do not steal
- Making excuses for someone’s behavior
- Ignoring unacceptable behavior
- Not expressing how you feel in order to avoid someone becoming upset or leaving
Empathy and encouragement should come in the form of words. Communicate with your child to show them you want to help, but do not engage in behaviors that enable theirs. There is no incentive for change if there is nothing to lose. Protecting them from the potential outcomes of alcoholism can prevent them from seeing the bigger picture and recognizing they need help.
Some ways to stop enabling your alcohol son or daughter may include:
- Buying them food when they are hungry rather than giving them money that can be spent on anything
- Not cleaning up after them – if they make a mess while intoxicated, leave it for them to see
- Continue following through on plans even if your child does not participate
- Taking back autonomy by prioritizing your needs
Begin Looking for a Treatment Center, then Ask the Right Questions
There are so many treatment centers available that it can be overwhelming and difficult to find the right one. Consider your child’s circumstances and unique needs when looking for a treatment center. This may include factors such as:
- Age-specific treatment: Age can play a significant role in the development of addiction and what may need to be addressed in treatment. Choosing an age-specific treatment program can help your child succeed long term.
- Long-term treatment: Studies show that long-term treatment is more successful, especially for young adults, than short-term or outpatient treatment programs.
- Gender-specific therapy: There are inherent, biological differences that cause alcohol abuse to have different effects on men and women. Discussing these topics and other related experiences may be difficult in mixed gender groups.
- Dual-diagnosis: Many who struggle with alcoholism also struggle with a co-occurring mental health disorder. Alcohol is often used as a means of escape and a form of self-medication, which can exacerbate both conditions. A dual-diagnosis treatment center helps treat both the substance abuse and mental health issues depression or anxiety, simultaneously, giving your child the best change at success.
Questions to Ask Alcohol Treatment Centers
Do not be afraid to reach out to the treatment facility for more information. You can discuss your child’s specific needs to determine if it is the right fit. Some questions that can help you determine if it will work for you and your child include:
- Does the facility accept insurance?
- How much will it cost?
- Where is it located?
- Are detox services available?
- How long does the program last?
- What amenities are offered?
- What is the living situation?
- What is the staff to client ratio?
- How is the treatment program created?
- What is the facility’s treatment philosophy?
With different forms of treatment available, costs will vary as well. While you can pay a high premium for luxury rehab facilities with lavish amenities, these are not required to achieve sobriety. Many treatment facilities work with insurance providers to reduce the cost of rehab, but the overall cost will vary depending on the severity of the addiction and the time needed to recover.
Factors such as the location of the facility, its size, the type of treatment provided, and the type of facility are all factored into costs. Finding the actual costs associated with a treatment program online may be difficult to locate, making it especially important for you to reach out to facilities directly and discuss your options.
Many will work with Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, state-funded insurance, or even military coverage to cover the costs of treatment. The amount insurance providers will cover varies depending on the insurer and what the provider accepts. Some even have financing options available to help make the cost of treatment more manageable.
Inpatient treatment can be expensive due to cost of housing, food, round-the-clock supervision, and other amenities. Other options, such as outpatient treatment, can be cheaper because the client participates in therapy sessions, but does not have housing, food, or other amenities covered.
There are numerous low-cost and no-cost options available as well. Some facilities have sliding-scale fees income so clients can still receive the help they need, and there are numerous no-cost options with support groups Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART Recovery offering free support groups to the community.
Learn more about the pros and cons of outpatient rehab.
When you are ready to make the move, consider using an intervention as a way to reach out to your child.
An intervention can help you express your concerns, your desire for them to get help, and provide them with a roadmap to recovery.
Interventions are often used as a tool to transition someone into recovery, so it is important to have chosen a treatment program and prepare to transport them as soon as possible following it.
Talk to Someone Who’s Found a Way to Help Their Alcoholic Child
Contacting rehabilitation facilities directly can also put you in touch with others who have been in your shoes.
The decision to reach out to a treatment facility can be difficult and stressful, but having the ability to connect with the program and its staff directly can help you feel more confident in the process.
Speaking face-to-face with the people who will have a hand in your child’s recovery can alleviate some of the anxiety you may inevitably experience.
In many cases, treatment facilities have resources for family members and loved ones as well, making it easy for you to connect with parents who have been in your shoes. It allows you to better understand the recovery process, some of the obstacles you may face, and develop a stronger support network of peers who can readily relate to your experiences.
If you have the opportunity to do so, visit the treatment facilities you are considering. When visiting treatment facilities, you often have the opportunity to meet the staff, current clients, and even family members. They can provide valuable insight into how the program works and help you determine whether it is the right fit.
Even if you are unable to visit the site in person, some treatment facilities’ websites will provide links to video testimonials from former clients and family members, as well as let you become better acquainted with the staff. These resources can help you decide if a treatment program is the right fit for you and your child.
Find Time to Help Yourself While Helping Your Alcoholic Child
While helping your child achieve sobriety is a top priority, it is important not to lose yourself in the process. Addiction affects not only the person with it, but those closest to them. The devouring nature of substance abuse can make it difficult to prioritize yourself as well.
- Find a support group: Treatment programs often have resources available to family members as well. Joining a support group can help you manage your own well-being. These forums allow you to connect with others who relate to your experiences and can provide support or advice in times of struggle.
- Take care of yourself: This can be anything. Find something you love, something that excites you, or helps you relax, and make time for it. It is important not to lose your identity in the process of helping your child rediscover theirs. Make time for hobbies, exploration, and loved ones to help ease your mind.
Contact Sober College Today
With age- and gender-specific long-term treatment plans, Sober College has numerous therapeutic options for those in crisis.
When a parent drinks too much alcohol — What kids want to know
Lots of people drink alcohol and don’t have problems. But this is not true for everyone. There are many possible reasons why someone may have a problem with alcohol, but sometimes the causes are not known. There are also different reasons why people begin drinking too much.
At first, people may drink alcohol because it makes them feel better or more relaxed, or because it seems fun. Some people may gradually begin to drink more, while for others heavy drinking may start more suddenly.
In some cases, stress or other mental health problems may lead a person to drink more alcohol.
- Some people say they can’t stop drinking. This is sometimes called an “addiction” to alcohol. When someone is addicted, he or she keeps drinking alcohol even though bad things start to happen. The person has a strong urge to drink, and it’s very hard to stop.
- Imagine having some chewing gum in your mouth but not being allowed to chew it. You would really want to chew it, and it would be very hard not to. That’s what it is to fight an addiction.
- Alcohol problems can lead to other problems, such as problems with money, health or relationships. People with an alcohol problem may find it hard to stop drinking, even if they want to and even if these other problems begin to outweigh the good effects of drinking.
Remember, not all alcohol use is a problem. It ranges from non–problem drinking to addiction.
What does it feel to drink alcohol? How does it feel to be drunk?
- Alcohol is a drug. It affects a person’s body and how he or she feels and behaves.
- People who are drunk may have many different feelings. They may feel dizzy, silly, happy or free to act however they want. Or they may feel control, angry, violent, sad, tired or nauseous (feel vomiting).
- After drinking a lot, people may have trouble remembering, talking, standing, walking or doing other tasks.
- People may also vomit (throw up), fall down, feel ill (have a “hangover”) or black out (when they can’t remember what happened).
Why am I so confused about how I feel? Why do I worry so much?
- If someone in your family drinks too much alcohol, things at home might not feel calm or safe. The alcohol problem can make family relationships tense, which can cause arguments. When you are worrying about what is going on, it may be hard to concentrate at home and at school.
- The parent with the alcohol problem may say things that he or she doesn’t mean. Your mom or dad may break promises. There may not be a regular schedule at home (for example, meals may not be on time). Kids may feel unhappy, or may be embarrassed to bring friends home.
- All this stress can cause confusing feelings. You may feel:
- worried or scared
- guilty or ashamed
- sorry for the parent who drinks too much.
All these feelings are normal. Even scary feelings are OK.
Why is the alcohol problem a secret?
- People often don’t want to let others know about their alcohol problem. They may worry that others will think badly of them and treat them differently. This is sometimes called “stigma” or “discrimination.”
- Sometimes a person may not want to admit that he or she has an alcohol problem (for example, how much he or she is drinking or how it is affecting others).
- Drinking is often seen as something that people should be able to control, or to stop if they want to. People may worry that others would see them as “weak” if they admitted having an alcohol problem.
- People may also worry that if they admit they have a problem, it may lead to other problems (for example, that it may make them lose their job, scare family members or make others think they are a bad parent). Sometimes kids think that if they talk about their mom or dad’s drinking problem, they will get their parent in trouble. They may also worry about getting in trouble themselves.
- Kids might feel that their family is different from others (for example, there may be a lot of arguing, the house may be a mess or the parent may often be sleeping on the couch). A child might be embarrassed by what is going on at home, and not want anyone to know about it.
Can my mom or dad stop drinking so much? Can people get better?
Yes. The good news is that people with alcohol problems can get better.
- Some people manage to drink less. Others are able to stop drinking alcohol completely.
- It can be really hard to stop drinking. A person may take a long time to change. Or they might change for a while, but then have a day or week when they start drinking again. This is called a “relapse,” and it is often part of getting better. It doesn’t always mean the person won’t ever stop.
- There are different kinds of treatment for alcohol problems. Sometimes medicine may help. Sometimes treatment for mental health problems ( stress or depression) may help, because these problems may be contributing to the drinking problem. Some people may need a combination of treatments.
- The person may need to make other changes to help him or her stop drinking. For example, it can help if the person finds new hobbies, other things to do in his or her spare time (for example, sports, arts or crafts), and perhaps even new friends. The person may also need a doctor’s help to take care of himself or herself.
Is there anything I can do to make my mom or dad better?
- Many kids worry about the parent with the alcohol problem. Family support is really important for people with a drinking problem, but it is the adults who are responsible for being the “helpers,” not the kids.
- Sometimes the parent may blame others for his or her drinking. But kids are not the cause of their parent’s drinking problem, no matter what is going on at home. The child can’t control or cure the problem.
- Even though kids can’t fix the alcohol problem, sometimes it can help your parent just to know that you are there. It is important for you to know about your mom or dad’s problem and to know that, with treatment, they can get better.
Why do people drink so much when they know it will hurt them or others?
When people have an alcohol problem, they may lie and say things they don’t mean, which can really hurt people’s feelings.
People may not admit the bad things that are happening in their lives (either to themselves or to others) because of their drinking. When someone is drunk, his or her judgment is off, or “impaired.
” The person may do dangerous things, such as driving or getting into fights.
- People with a drinking problem believe alcohol will help them feel better or forget about their other problems.
- People who drink too much usually only focus on what is happening right now. They do not think about what may happen later or in the long term. They may not be able to understand what is really going on in their lives.
- People who have been drinking too much for a long time may drink to avoid feeling ill. They may feel ill if they stop drinking or drink less, and this feels worse in the short term.
Whom can I talk to? Where can I go to for help? What do I do if I don’t feel safe?
When kids have a parent with an alcohol problem, they may go through times when they feel angry, sad or scared. They may be afraid to talk about their feelings. Sometimes they just may not know what to do.
- It’s important for kids to find people they can talk to. Kids can talk to adults they trust, such as the other parent or a grandparent, teacher, counsellor or family doctor. Kids can write down questions or worries to help them think more clearly, or so they can share them with a trusted adult.
- Kids can also talk to other kids they trust. Sometimes there’s nothing a good friend.
- If the child is worried and has no one to talk to, he or she can call Kids Help Phone at 1 800 668-6868 to talk to an adult who can help. If there is an emergency, the child can call 911.
- Sometimes children feel better if they make an action plan with their parent (or another trusted adult). This helps them decide what to do when they are scared.
- Actions plans can include:
- making a list of signs that tell the child that the parent is doing well or not doing well
- having the name and number of an adult the child can call.
When I grow up, will I have an alcohol problem too?
- Most adults drink responsibly and don’t develop alcohol problems.
- It’s natural to worry about this. Some scientists think that kids may be more ly to have an alcohol problem if a parent does. But this is not certain, and most kids will not follow in their parent’s footsteps and have a drinking problem.
- Kids are able to make different choices. It helps if kids know the risks. They can get support to help them make different choices than their parent did.
What can I do so that I don’t ever have an alcohol problem?
There are a lot of things kids can do. Joining clubs, playing sports and hanging out with friends are all great ideas. So is spending time with other adults who don’t have problems with alcohol (for example, sports coaches, teachers and other grown-up relatives).
- It’s important for kids to find something they enjoy and to spend a lot of time doing it. It’s good to spend time with other kids who to play sports and do fun and healthy things (for example, ride bikes, play in the playground, do arts and crafts, and play on the computer). These are all great ways to cope with stress, sadness, and ups and downs.
- Kids should also find things they to do alone, for when they can’t leave the house or find someone to play with. For example, they can read, write stories, play music or watch TV. They can also talk to a friend on the phone.
- If kids have their own dreams and goals, they are less ly to have an alcohol problem. Adults can help kids work toward goals. It’s important for kids to have a relationship with at least one caring adult.
- When things in the family are going well, it’s a good idea for kids to join in family celebrations and rituals. These can be small things, eating dinner together, watching a TV show together or celebrating birthdays and holidays together in a special way. This is important for kids, even when not everyone in the family is there.
Coping When a Parent Has an Alcohol or Drug Problem
If you live with a parent who has an alcohol or drug problem, you're not alone. Alcohol problems and addictions to drugs (such as opioids) are called substance use disorders.
Substance use disorders harm a person's health, and change the way they act. They cause problems at home and work. It's not easy living with someone who has a substance use problem. Especially if it's your parent.
If you are going through this, tell someone what it's for you. Get the support you need and deserve.
What's it to Live With a Parent Who Has a Substance Use Problem?
Living with a parent who has a substance use problem is hard. It can affect how you feel and act. It can affect your family life too. What it's is different for each person. Here are some common examples. See if some of them describe what's it's for you.
How people might feel. Some people feel:
- embarrassed, angry, or sad about a parent's substance use
- worried about their parent's health or safety
- worried for themselves, siblings, or their other parent
- scared, alone, or unsafe at home
- frustrated when their parent doesn't change
- relieved when a parent takes steps to recover
- it's hard to trust or relax
- they have to be an adult before they're ready
- depressed or anxious
How people might act. Some people:
- try hard not to upset a parent who drinks too much
- try to stay a parent's way
- may not speak up, or ask for what they need
- keep their feelings to themselves
- keep their parent's problem a secret
- hide what their life is at home
- avoid having friends over because they never know how their parent will act
- miss school, or have trouble keeping up with schoolwork
- take on adult tasks
- argue or fight with a parent
- harm themselves
- act they don't care, even if they are hurting
How family life might be affected. In some families with substance problems:
- a parent has trouble keeping a job or paying the bills
- there may not be enough food or money
- older siblings may have to take care of younger ones
- parents mistreat, abuse, or neglect their children
- a parent may drive drunk or high. They may get into trouble, get hurt, or hurt others.
- kids might have to live somewhere else to be protected or cared for
- parents split up or divorce
- relatives or friends step in to help
- parents get help and recover
What Can I Do?
If you're living with a parent who has a substance use problem, you might be having a tough time. Reach out to others for safety, help, and support. Here are some things to do:
Open up to someone. Talk to a good friend. Also talk to an adult you trust. For example, a teacher, doctor, therapist, or relative. Let them know what you're going through. It can be a relief to share what it's for you. And they may be able to help you in other ways.
Know that it's not your fault. Some people blame themselves for their parent's substance use. They may think about times when a parent was angry or blamed them. They may wonder if they caused a parent to drink or use drugs. But kids can't cause a parent's substance problem.
Know and name your emotions. Don't bury your feelings or pretend that everything's OK. Notice how a parent's substance problem makes you feel. It's OK to feel the way you do. Use words (and not harmful actions) to express how you feel and why.
Find a support group. Find a group Al-Anon/Alateen (they have a 24-hour hotline at 1-800-344-2666) or go online for help. Join a support group. Talking with others who are going through the same thing can help you cope.
Find a safe place. Do you avoid home as much as possible? Are you thinking about running away? If you feel you're not safe at home, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE. If you think you or another family member could be in danger, call 911.
Build good habits. Some people learn not to speak up or show emotion. They worry it may trigger a parent's drinking or substance use. Habits these may help you survive tough times at home.
But they may not work in other parts of your life. Being able to speak up, say how you feel, and show emotion helps you have good relationships in the future.
Sometimes people need therapy to build good habits they were not able to learn living with an alcoholic or addicted parent.
Stop the cycle. People who have parents with substance use problems are at higher risk of having these problems too. A support group or therapy can help you learn how to avoid this risk.