5 Steps for Dealing With a Problem Drinker or Alcoholic Teen
ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Finding out that your child has become addicted to alcohol is a challenging situation for any parent to face. But it is always possible to learn how to help an addicted child. Basic info on where to start here.
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 5 minutes.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Seek Treatment Referral
- Warning Signs
- How Can You Help?
- First, Open a Conversation
- Second, Stop Enabling
- Third, Stage an Intervention
- Fourth, Continue Seeking Treatment
- Fifth, Attend Family Therapy and Support Groups
- What If Your Child Doesn’t Accept Rehab?
- Your Questions
Seek Treatment Referral
But where do you start to look for help?
What treatment approach is the best?
We answer here and invite your questions in the section at the end of the page.
Warning Signs of Alcohol Addiction
- Income level
- Region of the U.S. where you live
It is natural for parents to think that alcoholism only occurs in other households; however, addiction does not discriminate. Even straight-A students can fall prey to the dangers of alcohol abuse. The important thing is to watch for signs of abuse in order to know when it’s time to help an addicted child quickly and effectively.
Common signs of a drinking problem among teenagers include:
- A decreased interest in physical appearance.
- Asking for money without a good explanation or stealing items.
- Increased obsession with privacy, such as locking the bedroom door at all times.
- Sudden lack of interest in schoolwork and other responsibilities or activities.
Some common signs of addiction in all ages include the following:
- Decreased appetite and unexplained weight loss
- Memory problems
- Sudden change in personality or behaviors, such as increased irritability
Part of knowing how to help an addicted child is becoming aware of these signs and knowing when to intervene.
How Can You Help?
First, Open a Conversation
To open a conversation, wait for a moment of sobriety.
Approach your child when he or she is not currently using alcohol. An important part of knowing how to help an addicted child involves trusting your own instincts as a parent. Wait for a time when you are both calm and at ease, rather than letting emotions to spiral out of control. Instead of expressing accusation, talk calmly, yet seriously, about your concerns.
Second, Stop Enabling Behaviors
For a teenager, this might mean having a car taken away. For a grown child, this could mean that you will no longer lend money or bail your child out of tricky situations. Knowing how to help an addicted child includes using your own knowledge of your family and the specific situation.
Third, Stage an Intervention
Whatever you do … don’t try it on your own.
Then, discuss about how you’ll approach the child and what each of you will say. Leave the heaving lifting to the professional. S/He is trained in how to address objections. And your child will have many! You can also discuss about possible reactions with the therapist. You may want to write down what kind of behaviors will not be tolerated and what will be the consequences if they appear, as well as writing down all the things that were lost after your child’s behavior has changed.
The intervention is successful even if your child refuses to go to rehab, because at least the family has united to set a boundary. This means life will not be the same for your child, and a process has started that will one day result in him or her getting treatment.
Fourth, Continue Seeking Treatment
Fifth, Attend Family Therapy and Support Groups
What If Your Child Doesn’t Accept Rehab?
If your treatment offers are constantly refused, you can work on doing research together to show him/her why they should get better. Even though they might refuse treatment, you should continue visiting family support meetings and find help for yourself on how to deal with your inner struggles on this issue. The only other thing you can do is keep encouraging your child to go to treatment.