How to Deal With an Alcoholic Parent


Alcoholism is an addiction and visible symptom of some unsolved physiologic or psychological problem 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.

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, as well as be the result of alcoholism. Dealing with an alcoholic parent is never easy, but there are ways to cope.

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. In some other cases, however, some people just drink unnecessarily. It has become their habit, and they can’t seem to stop even if they want to.

Try talking to your parent when s/he is sober. Find a time when both of you are calm and your parent has not been drinking. Sit your parent down and discuss how his or her alcoholism makes you feel. Explain the problems that have arisen because of the drinking. You will probably not be able to convince your parent to stop drinking completely but you can at least encourage more responsible drinking and try to inject some realism into their understanding of the impacts.

Avoid arguing with a drunk parent. A heated argument with a drunk parent is one you will rarely win and it will make the drinker clam up in any future talks. There is a risk of you getting physically hurt, too. In addition, your parent may not even remember the argument the next day, though s/he might remember that they were mad at you.

Stay consistent. If you tell your alcoholic parent that you will do certain things as a consequence of their drinking, stick to it. Inconsistency will only make your parent realise that you don’t mean what you say and lets them continue to pull the emotional triggers that keep you stuck in enabling their behaviour.

Realise that your parent’s alcoholism 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, rather than taking responsibility for their life and actions, alcohol lubricates the ability to level blame at others.

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 or 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 (or forgets to) pick you up. Always have backup plans, options and other people to help you out of tight spots if needed. Being resourceful will stand you in good stead both now and in the future.

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.

Do not start drinking yourself. Children of alcoholics are three to four 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.

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.

Culled from WikiHow

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