How to Deal with Alcoholic Parents: Tips On Dealing With an Alcoholic Parent

Do you think your parent drinks a little too much? Are you looking for tips on how to deal with alcoholic parents? Are you looking for a solution to your parent’s alcohol problem? Are you a child living with an alcoholic parent? Do you know a child of an alcoholic in need of assistance? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, this article is for you.

Hi. My name is Sean Galla. I am a facilitator of support groups and support forums for men, including alcohol addiction recovery groups and child of alcoholic support groups, with over 10 years of experience.

My work involves providing safe spaces for men to talk about men’s issues, including a parent’s drinking problem and offering ideas for addiction treatment for addict parents. Most groups members report progress and improvement once they attend our sessions.

A support group is a fantastic place for anyone to get support and information about how to deal with alcoholic parents. This article gives you all the information you need.

Written by

Sean Galla

An experienced facilitator, community builder and Peer Support Specialist, Sean has been running men's groups for 10+ years. Read Sean's Full Author Bio.

Alcoholism and Families

Alcoholism and Families

By 2018, there were at least 20.3 million Americans living with substance use disorder (SUD) related to either drinking alcohol or drug use. According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), taking part in a treatment program can help the addict and the family.

Alcohol addiction is considered a family disease because it affects the entire family’s well-being. Family members go out of their way to ensure their loved one gets the help they need to overcome an alcohol addiction, not knowing that they too need support.

Even though the addict is the one directly affected by the addiction health-wise, they’re not the only ones experiencing hard times and frustrations caused by their addiction. Their family members and loved ones face an uphill battle, too, with the children being the most affected.

Children of alcoholic parents experience emotional and psychological trauma from watching their parents hurt themselves through the addiction. Most struggle with these feelings because they do not know where to go for help or how to deal with alcoholic parents.

Family members of an alcoholic play an integral role in the addict’s recovery process. To offer support to their alcoholic parent, they need to be in good mental shape. This gives them the capacity to be able to be of help to their parent without having to sacrifice their own life.

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Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction can manifest in different ways depending on an individual. However, some common symptoms you can look out for to ascertain whether your parent is an alcoholic include:

  • Excessive drinking, even when not intentional
  • Inability to cut back or stop drinking
  • Experiencing minor accidents or making mistakes
  • Continuing to drink despite health issues caused by drinking
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Withdrawal symptoms when they do not drink like mood swings
  • Showing less focus on appearance or hygiene
  • Defensiveness whenever they are criticized

How to Deal With Alcoholic Parents 

If you suspect that your parents or parents are alcoholics, you should consider seeing a therapist get a clear diagnosis. Once they are confirmed to be alcoholics, you can take a few steps to help them.

Don’t blame yourself

Remember that your parent’s alcohol problem is not your fault. Alcoholism is an illness that requires treatment to get better.

Stop being an enabler

No matter what, do not give in to any demands that will enable the alcoholic behavior. You can choose to cut your parents off financially or withdraw from your relationship until they seek help.

Talk to them about visiting addiction centers for treatment

It would help if you tried to talk to your parents about visiting a treatment center and considering treatment options like a detox for their alcohol use disorder. If they seem reluctant, you can issue ultimatums and seek the help of a healthcare professional to plan an intervention.

Effects of Alcoholism on Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA)

Effects of Alcoholism on Adult Children of Alcoholics

One in every four children under the age of 18 in America was raised by a parent with excessive drinking habits. In some cases, children grow up in dysfunctional homes where both parents are alcoholics. 

If you grew up around a parent with a drinking problem, you probably thought things would change after moving out. However, you probably realized that things did not get better; if anything, they probably got worse. This is the story of hundreds of adult children of alcoholic parents.

When you grow up around an alcoholic parent and family dysfunction, you can develop psychological issues that last a lifetime. As an adult child of an alcoholic, you can develop emotional struggles or even alcohol addiction and drug abuse. This is due to growing up around alcohol and not knowing any better. Learn more about the effects of alcoholism on children and what happens to children of alcoholic parents.

Here are some of the most common issues you are likely to go through as a child of an alcoholic.

Relationship struggles 

Children of alcoholics have a hard time when it comes to forming meaningful relationships with other adults. This is caused by several issues that have to do with their need for control.

When people grow up in dysfunctional families where everything is unpredictable, they develop an unexplainable need to feel in control. Children of alcoholics find it hard to be vulnerable and open in relationships because of a lack of trust stemming from the inability to trust their parents.

Alcohol Abuse disorder 

According to studies, a child who grows up around an alcoholic parent is at a higher risk of developing alcoholism. Most children of alcoholics struggle with alcohol use. Research further shows that daughters raised by alcoholics gravitate towards forming relationships with alcoholic men, carrying on the problem to the future generation.

Inability to handle their emotions 

Adult children of alcoholics often develop and struggle with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and shame. This is caused mainly by a subconscious belief that they had something to do with the parent’s alcohol use and did something to deserve the neglect they experienced growing up.

This is because most children of alcoholics were neglected by the person who was supposed to protect them and love them unconditionally. The lack of love, attention, and care messes up an adult’s ability to control their emotions, which breeds angry people with the inability to trust.

Codependency

Codependency is highly common in children who grow up around an addict. Codependency occurs when an individual develops unhealthy coping skills as a response to the effects of alcoholism or living with an alcoholic.

Common codependency traits include lack of clear boundaries in relationships, caretaking, lack of a coherent identity, difficulty in understanding what normal behavior is, and even denial of the existence of problems.

Help for Children of Alcoholic Parents 

Help for Children of Alcoholic Parents 

Experts and psychologists recommend therapy and 12-step meetings for children in need of help to cope with the effects of growing up in alcoholic families. Therapy and 12-step programs help adult children of alcoholic parents to come to terms with their trauma and overcome it.

Therapy

Seeking professional help helps you understand how your parents’ alcoholism has affected your life and how this experience influences your decisions as an adult. The best therapist is one licensed to offer mental health assistance and has previously worked with adult children of alcoholics and trauma survivors.

12-step programs

Alcoholics anonymous twelve-step programs are mostly free support groups for family members and friends of people with alcoholism. It focuses on helping members complete the 2-step recovery program to address and overcome issues they have experienced growing up around alcoholic parents.

Alcohol anonymous meetings are facilitated by children of alcoholics and take place in a treatment center or community center. In the meetings, you learn practical tips and skills that help you cope better. In these groups, you do not have to feel isolated and embarrassed about being the child of an alcoholic. Al-Anon groups help you let go of that shame.

Good options for 12 step programs include Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA), Alateen, and Al-Anon family groups. You can call the treatment facilities helpline to learn more. 

Support groups

There are numerous support groups specifically created for children of alcoholic parents. A child of an alcoholic support group offers emotional support to children of alcohol addicts. Children become better equipped to help their loved ones beat the alcoholic addiction and prevent a relapse by receiving support.

For male children of alcoholic parents, Men’s Group is an online men’s support group that offers group support, help, and guidance to men looking for help and support when learning how to deal with alcoholic parents.

It is a supportive network of men ready and willing to help others like them through shared life experiences. As an online support group for men, the group meets virtually over video or chat, making it perfect for busy men who prefer not to attend physical therapy or 12-step program meetings, especially in this coronavirus pandemic era.

Conclusion

Growing up around alcoholic parents can be difficult for any child. Like any other mental health problem, understanding alcohol addiction and how to deal with alcoholic parents are necessary first steps for children of alcoholics.

This article has all the information you need to understand alcohol addiction and help you get the help you need to be able to give your loved one the help they need. If you need a support network, MensGroup offers a strong social network of friends who will walk with you in your recovery journey.

*Sources:
1. DEALING WITH AN ALCOHOLIC PARENT
2. The Effects of Parental Alcoholism on Children
3. What Are the Effects of an Alcoholic Father on Children?
4. IS IT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO HELP YOUR ALCOHOLIC PARENT?
5. Coping When a Parent Has an Alcohol or Drug Problem

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