Every parent dreads finding out that their child has a problem with alcohol. However, whether you suspect your son is drinking to excess or know he is, there is help for him. Here, we’ll look at a parent’s guide to helping an alcoholic child.
When someone is physically dependent on alcohol, they are an alcoholic. Any alcoholic who tries to stop drinking will experience withdrawal. Some people think that alcohol is different from other drugs because it is legal. However, dependency on alcohol is similar to being dependent on crack or heroin. Therefore, your alcoholic son relies on you to support him through this withdrawal stage.
Research has shown that 17 percent of all men are likely to develop an alcohol problem in their lifetimes. However, addressing this problem at as young an age as possible is vital. This will help to avoid long-term health ramifications. With that in mind, here are some questions to ask yourself and some steps to take.
Does My Son Have An Alcohol Problem?
You may be wondering whether your child really does have an alcohol problem. If so, here are some questions to ask that will help you determine the answer.
- Is your son drinking frequently or every day?
- Does he drink alone?
- Is your son increasingly isolated and withdrawn?
- Is your child relying on drink to enjoy himself?
- Is your son more confident when drinking?
- Does he talk more freely after having a drink?
- Is he sad, guilty or depressed after drinking?
- Has he found himself in a compromising situation when drinking?
- Does he blackout?
- Does he miss work or school because of drinking?
- Does he take risks when drinking?
- Have friends left him because of his drinking?
My Son Drinks A Lot But Isn’t An Alcoholic
Somebody who drinks a lot but who has no physical dependency on alcohol may still experience problems. You don’t have to be an alcoholic for bad things to happen. Police can still arrest you and you can still lose your job because of excessive drinking. Alcohol can cause violence or depression, even in those who aren’t physically dependent. This means that getting help can still be beneficial.
Helping An Adult Child
Every parent faces a lot of responsibility and that doesn’t go away just because their child grows up. Even when a child becomes an adult, they are still, to some extent, their parent’s responsibility. However, if you’re the parent of an adult son who is making poor choices, the burden can be extra heavy. While it’s possible to control and discipline a young child, this isn’t possible once your son is 18 or older. Even though your son isn’t your responsibility legally anymore, you still feel emotional responsibility. You may also experience shame and anger about your own parenting skills. Many parents accept the blame for their son’s addiction. They end up enabling him by helping to pay for a drink or covering for him. While this may seem like the right thing to do at the time, it is definitely not the answer.
Facing The Truths
No parent is perfect, but when your child becomes an adult, he is responsible for his own decisions. It is not your fault or responsibility anymore. That means an adult child cannot blame you for the decisions that he himself has made. You need to accept this yourself and avoid laying the blame at your own door. Recognize it is your son who is to blame and that he needs to take responsibility for himself.
It is hard to cope with an alcoholic son. However, here are some suggestions to help.
Firstly, remind your son that it was his choice and not yours to continue drinking alcohol to excess. Emphasize that it was not bad luck but his own decision that brought him here. Also, let your son know the effect his drinking has on everyone in the family and in his wider circle.
Offer support and assistance only as much as you can. When giving financial help, only give it to a cause that will improve his life. Don’t give him money that could cause him to carry on with his addiction. Don’t feel guilty that you aren’t giving your child money. Instead, buy groceries or other essentials. This will avoid the problem of cash being used to fund his habit.
Offer your assistance to help your son to find support, but don’t blame yourself if he refuses. It’s impossible to help somebody who does not want to help himself. Even though you want to help, there is nothing more you can do.
Carry on loving your son. However, loving isn’t the same as enabling. Loving means holding your son accountable for bad behavior. It also means refusing to let him dismantle your family.
Don’t assume it is possible to rescue him. Any attempt to rescue him won’t help him to take responsibility for his own actions.
Protect the family and yourself. Don’t allow your son to bring the family to its knees. No addict has to reach rock bottom before getting help these days.
Love yourself. You are doing your best as a parent. You cannot hold yourself responsible for your son’s poor choices. He is an adult, now, and responsible for his actions. Love yourself and accept that there are limits to what you can do.
Practical Steps To Take
Parents have a key role in their son’s recovery from alcoholism. Here are some practical steps that you can take to offer support.
- Finding treatment – An alcoholic son will struggle to motivate himself enough to get treatment. You can help by finding a suitable long-term alcohol rehab facility. Make sure to do your research thoroughly to ensure you choose the best one for your son’s needs.
- Be involved in his treatment – Family involvement is key to success during recovery. Family therapy must be a part of the treatment program. In addition to one-on-one counseling, there are family sessions. That way, the whole family can participate.
- Allowing time for recovery – Remember that recovery takes time. It is a long process and you need to give your son time. Don’t expect him to be back to normal the minute he leaves rehab. You need to give your child space to practice his new skills on his own.
- Seek support for yourself – Being the parent of an addicted child is hard. You probably feel fear, confusion, anger, and pain. These feelings won’t disappear the moment your son goes into rehab. Focus on your own needs. Get support yourself and connect with professionals and others who can help you to understand your situation.
- Healing as a family – Recovery is something the whole family goes through. You all need to recover on your own but recovering together is also important. You need to find healthy ways to connect and support each other. By supporting each other, successful recovery is possible.