My daughter or son is an alcoholic: What can I do?

If you suspect your child is an alcoholic, you need to change your traditional parenting tactics. Step-by-step practical suggestions for how to address alcoholism in your family here.

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Watching a child lose themselves in alcohol addiction can make parents feel helpless. If you suspect, “My child is an addict!”, there is no magic bullet or good advice that can stop an addiction and so when most people see their son or daughter slipping into alcoholism, they simply do not know how to stop it. Here, we review some practical suggestions in addressing a suspected alcohol problem within your family. We invite your questions about treatment or family therapies for addiction in the comments section at the end.

STEP 1: The Old Ways May Not Be The Best

Many parents, upon discovering their children have an alcohol problem, resort to traditional parenting reactions. They attempt to punish their child. This could be cutting them off from “bad friends”, Sending them to their room, Taking away privileges or even just getting angry and yelling. These methods may have worked in the past, but chances are, they will not work to treat an addiction. The two reasons for this are that, 1) if they are old enough to get alcohol, they are probably old enough to have some independence which means traditional punishments are harder to enforce. 2) Punishing an addict does nothing to fight the addiction. So, your first step is to recognize that what you used to do…is broken, and that you need to seek alternative ways of coping.

STEP 2: Talk To Them

People with an alcohol problem do not respond to anger, they respond to empathy. Someone who is drinking too much may already feel depressed or isolated, punishing them further really only serves to increase their urge to drink. The best way to approach an alcohol addiction is to talk to the person. Do not do this when they are drunk, wait until they are sober, and maybe even a bit hung over. Tell the person that you are worried about them, that you care for them and that you just want to help.

Also remember to go to them with evidence and ideas. What this means is, before you speak to anyone about an alcohol addiction, it is important to gather evidence to prove they have a problem. No evidence means they can just deny everything. Once you have the evidence, the ideas come into play. Find a list of treatment options so you can have them ready for the talk. Ideas of the treatments available will show the addict that there is a way out. It is like offering a ray of hope.

STEP 3: Take Action

Once you have spoken to your child about a possible addiction to alcohol, it is time to take action. If you can, go with them to speak to a doctor about the condition, Speak to a counsellor or look at a treatment centre. All of these options can be effective in getting treatment but it may be hard to get your son or daughter to embrace them.

If you are having trouble, speak to a doctor, counselor or treatment centre yourself. They can offer advice and some comfort. It is also a good idea to look into some family support groups. There are organisations out there that are designed to support the families of alcoholics. They are full of people just like you that have gone through it all before and may be able to help.

You Can Only Do So Much

Addiction is often called a family disease because it affects everyone around it, but when it comes to treating addiction, The Addict has to make the first move. If you have Offered help and provide your son or daughter with treatment options, there is not a lot more you can do. Most addicts that actually kick their habit do so because they decide to.

If someone does not want to quit, there is very little that can be done to treat them. A good example of this is people in prison treatment programs. These people do not have access to drugs or alcohol for years at a time but once they get out many go right back to using. This is because they were forced to stop rather than choosing to stop themselves. Until someone decides they want to get better, they will not respond well to treatment. If your son or daughter is refusing treatment, attend family support meetings and get yourself some help and support. The only other thing you can do is keep encouraging the addict to go to treatment.

The road is not easy

This may not seem like an easy road or the answer most people want to hear but it is the truth. Having a child with an alcohol addiction is never easy but with help love and support, most people can get better. We invite your questions or comments in the section below and will try to respond to you personally and promptly.

About the author
Brad Girtz is a blogger working at Life Works Community, a residential treatment centre. He writes content about mental health, addiction and many other conditions treated at Life Works. Brad enjoys sharing news and information about the latest innovations and ideas in the field of addiction and mental health.
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