How to Deal With an Alcoholic Parent


Growing up in this type of atmosphere was very difficult for me because mom was a closet drinker and would go on binges that were awful. I would always be extremely embarrassed to bring friends over after school or on the weekends. Very rarely did I ever invite them to spend the night either. I just never knew what to expect.

I had an older sister who used to always try to give me advice. She no longer lived at home, but was in the same city. When ever things would get really out of hand at home because of one or both of my parents drinking alcohol, I would call my sister and she would have me spend the night at her house.

I will forever remember the challenges I had as a teenager growing up in a home filled with dysfunctional behavior. I really believe that many of the poor choices I personally made in life were due to not having the nurture as a child that we desperately need from our parent who is addicted.

Anyway this article below explains the frustrations that I dealt with very well.

Growing up I had to learn how to deal with not just one alcoholic parent but two. Below you will find an article that I was very much able to relate to in relation to this subject. Not only was my real dad a problem drinker but my mother suffered from the disease as well.

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Alcoholism is a chronic disease that makes a person’s body dependent upon alcohol. The person may be obsessed with alcohol and unable to control how much they consume, even though they know that their drinking is causing serious health, relationship, and financial problems.[1]
Alcoholism is a problem that spreads far and wide, and is one that affects people of all walks of life. Many families are affected each day by alcohol abuse. The problem often goes beyond just getting drunk – emotional abuse, money problems, and even physical abuse can contribute to alcoholism. Dealing with an alcoholic parent is never easy, but there are ways to cope.
This article assumes you’ve already determined that your parent is an alcoholic.

Steps

  1. Understand the causes of alcoholism. The most common cause is depression. It doesn’t happen very often that a person becomes an alcoholic without being depressed; moreover, drinking does nothing but make one even more depressed. The only difference between being depressed when sober and when drunk is that people forget about themselves and can lose control of their actions when drunk. At the very least, some actions can be blamed on losing control, so the person who drinks somehow eases a burden. It’s more difficult to deal with your problems when sober; when you’re drunk you can refuse responsibility for everything.
    • To help a parent deal with this, encourage your parent to talk about possible reasons for the depression that fuels it. Showing compassion is not the same thing as tolerating or enabling your parent.
  2. Realize that it is not your fault. Many alcoholic parents blame their children for their alcoholism. Even without having the finger pointed at you, it may feel like the fault is yours. It isn’t. Your parent is the one who chooses to drink, not you. Part of the allure of alcohol is that it does allow a person to become a bit more “Teflon-coated” — in other words, rather than taking blame on him or herself, alcohol lubricates the ability to level blame at others.
  3. Let your feelings out. Get a journal and write down everything you feel. Or, if you’re afraid your parent will find it, get an on-line journal and make it private. Clearing your history will help minimize the chances of getting caught. Journalling may help you put your feelings into words. Finding ways to express your feelings will help you process and deal with them, whereas bottling them up inside will simply create a pressure-cooker type situation — and when you blow, it may be spectacular. That’s not desirable. Instead, try to deal with things in smaller, daily bits.
  4. Don’t depend on your parent or trust what s/he says s/he will do unless your parent has proven that you can depend on him/her. For example, if you’re going out somewhere, make sure you have a backup plan in case your parent gets drunk and can’t pick you up.
  5. Avoid arguing with a drunk parent. A heated argument with a drunk parent is one you will rarely win. In addition, your parent may not even remember the argument the next day, though s/he might remember that they were mad at you.
  6. Do things that will take your mind off of the situation at home. Go out with your friends often and have fun. Joining a sports team, reading, and drawing are also good activities that will help you escape when you need a break. There is not much you can do to control your own situation at home, so staying when you can with reliable friends who care about you will help you feel more stable and in control of your own life.
  7. Try talking to your parent when s/he is sober. Sit your parent down and discuss how his/her alcoholism makes you feel. You will probably not be able to convince your parent to stop drinking completely, but you can at least encourage less drinking.
  8. Do not start drinking yourself. Children of alcoholics are 3 to 4 times more likely to become alcoholics themselves. Remember everything about your parent when drunk that you do not like, and keep that in mind if you’re tempted. A drink every once in awhile (if you’re legal) is okay, but if you start to develop a dependency on it, you should stop.
  9. Get out if your parent becomes abusive. Never tolerate abuse. You need to get out before things escalate or continue the way they are if the abuse has been happening for awhile.
  10. Do not be afraid to tell someone. A best friend, school counsellor, or trusted teacher are all good choices. They won’t judge you, and they’ll try to help. And knowing there is someone who knows what you’re going through can be very comforting if things get rough.
    • It is a very good idea to tell a friend about your home’s situation, as not only will you feel better for it, you’ll also have someone “on your side”. Approach the friend (or the friend’s parents) and tell them of the severity of your parent’s drinking; bring up the topic when the time is right. Ask if you can rely on them if you need a place to spend a night or two, should your parent get out of hand.

Tips

  • Consider staging an intervention; make sure that there is a safe medical detox facility that your parent can go to afterwards.
  • It is very important to know the difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Also, keep in mind that a person who drinks a beer a day cannot be considered an alcoholic.
  • Find a support group or simply a friend in the same situation, on-line or otherwise. They can help you deal with the issue, and you will have people to talk to that will know what you’re going through.
  • If you’re paranoid about a parent finding your journal, make sure not to write anything you can get punished for. That way your parents will only find your feelings, and it may even cause them to rethink their habit.
    • Examples:
    • Okay – I hate it when my mom drinks, I feel as though she isn’t my mom. I feel like she’s just someone who randomly came home from the bar and decided to parade around looking like my mom.
    • Not okay- My mom is stupid and I hate her!! I want to kill her because she drinks so much!!
  • Always have a backup ride to take you home or to an important event, just in case your parent gets drunk before it’s time to pick you up.
  • Don’t get your hopes up about things your alcoholic parent tells you unless they’ve shown that they come through in the past.
  • If your parent tries to start an argument, try to keep your cool.
  • When trying to talk to a parent, always try to catch them in a good mood when they’re sober. Try not to sound too accusing, but let them know that you’re serious.
  • Al-Anon is a support group for families that have an alcoholic. See if there is one in your area. They can give you strength and support when you need it most.
  • Consider leaving as soon as possible. It isn’t healthy to depend on someone who can’t emotionally be there for you. Don’t make excuses for them, buy them alcohol, or feel sorry. Doing these things only aggravates the problem. Even if you can’t help your alcoholic parent, you can help yourself.
  • Create your own support group of friends and other family. You need someone there for you.

Warnings

  • If you try to talk to your parent about the problem, s/he may get defensive and angry.
  • You cannot change the way your parents are. Only they can decide that they want to change; you can only try to persuade them to want it.
  • If your parent(s) become abusive, or if you believe you are in danger, get out, and seek help.
  • If one parent takes you away from your other parent without informing anyone or going through proper procedures – abducts you – call the International Child Abduction Hotline at 1800 100 480.
    • Depending on the laws of the state and country in which the parental abduction occurs, this may or may not constitute a criminal offense. For example, removal of a child from the UK for a period of 28 days or more without the permission of the other parent (or person with parental responsibility), is a criminal offense. In many states of the United States, if there is no formal custody order, and the parents are not living together, the removal of a child by one parent is not an offense.

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Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Deal With an Alcoholic Parent. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

There are many places to get help with the problem of alcoholism in the home. The biggest challenge is always waiting for the person suffering from the disease to hit bottom. Once they do there’s real hope that they will get help.

In the mean time a great thing to do is attend Al-anon meetings. This can help you deal with your parent who continues to drink on a daily basis. Even if they have quit consuming alcohol it may still be a good idea to attend support group meetings. The lasting effects that this disease has on friends and family members can be very difficult to deal with even after they person has stopped consuming alcohol.


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