How To Help An Alcoholic Parent

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How To Help An Alcoholic Parent

Alcohol abuse impacts the person who is drinking, as well as the family members involved. According to research, 43% of American adults were exposed to family alcoholism, and roughly 53% of Americans attested to having a spouse or relative who drinks. Alcoholism impacts millions of Americans and has serious health effects. Alcoholism is a condition in which someone is dependent on alcohol. While someone who drinks on occasion or binge drinks does not necessarily suffer from alcoholism, it occurs when someone cannot stop or control their drinking. Knowing the signs of alcoholism can help determine if help is needed.

Getting a parent help who is battling with addiction can stop the cycle of alcohol abuse, enable healthier role modeling examples, save lives, and curb health related alcohol problems.  Expecting mothers can save unborn babies from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and family members can be around to see their children grow up. This can include staging an intervention, or having discussions about rehab.  If domestic abuse occurs due to an alcoholic parent, getting the parent help sooner rather than later can help them deal with drinking. Having access to a counselor in treatment facilities can fight addictive tendencies as therapy can unveil underlying motives for drinking. Furthermore, a parent getting help and fighting alcohol withdrawal can encourage the child to see them recover and possibly reduce the likelihood of repeated alcoholism.

How To Talk To An Alcoholic Parent When They’re In Denial

For anyone battling addiction, denial can be an obstacle to getting the help needed for recovery. Taking the first step and starting a conversation may be helpful. Choosing the right time, like when they are relaxed, and approaching with a compassionate tone could make the message clear. Secondly, having a list of objective facts regarding how their behavior has impacted everyone could provide insight.

Furthermore, allowing the person to express reasons for drinking, and feelings could help parties realize information and strengthen bonds between the other. Lastly, encouraging them to get medical professional assistance with information on the benefits of inpatient or outpatient rehab could provide direction. Support groups like Al-Anon, CoDa, and others provide the support for those in need.

The Impact Of An Alcoholic Parent On The Child

Having a parent who abuses alcohol can be extremely difficult for several reasons. Firstly, a child growing up in that environment gets used to seeing a parent battle alcoholism, and if any violence is included, experiences an unstable environment. Secondly, the child may put him or herself in a premature caretaker role, unable to enjoy being a child. This could later condition the child to be codependent, resulting in relationships with those who abuse alcohol or other drugs in exchange for love or self-worth. Children and relatives of alcoholics can exhibit a set of behaviors or emotions which include:

  • Feelings of shame and embarrassment for intoxicated parent
  • Preoccupation with the mental health of their parent
  • Worried about their substance abuse
  • Feeling afraid of a drunk parent
  • Feeling guilt for a drunk parent
  • Not feeling safe in one’s home
  • Feeling anxious
  • Being secretive about a parent
  • Embarrassment about having friends over
  • Caretaking for the intoxicated parent
  • School absences
  • Poor academic function
  • Socially withdrawing
  • Frustration or resentment toward the parent with the addiction

Children and teens may blame themselves for their parent’s abusing drugs. The child or children may be a victim of abuse  if they live with an alcoholic parent who engages in domestic violence. Child abuse can yield challenging behavioral disruptions in children that can harm other children.

Detox, Parent Alcoholism, And Genetics

Genetics play a role in alcoholism for both the parent and their children. For one, if someone is drinking to battle depression because depression is in the family lineage, this could be a risk factor for alcohol abuse. As a result of this, children and teens could grow up to abuse alcohol, playing out family scenarios and carrying on genetically predisposed behavior.

Alcoholism takes place in response to prolonged drinking and can change someone’s brain chemistry. As a result, weaning one’s self off of alcohol or trying to quit immediately results in withdrawal symptoms. Once the body starts craving alcohol, and the individual experiences hallucinations and depression, drinking can seem like the best way to combat withdrawal symptoms. Medically assisted detox could provide needed medications with monitoring. Since alcoholism can impact other members in the family, getting help with counseling for alcoholism can stop negative cycles of addiction.

How To Cope When A Parent Is Drinking

Since children risk becoming codependent in response to a drinking parent, it is important they find helpful coping strategies early on. Doing so can possibly help the child not take responsibility for the alcoholism present in the parent, gain perspective, and may help prevent alcohol use in the future of the child’s life. Some coping mechanisms are not limited to:

  • Finding a support group
  • Talking to counselors or church members
  • Writing down and being aware of feelings
  • Utilize creativity to deal with emotions
  • Having a mentor or someone to talk to
  • If things escalate at home, seek safety
  • Initiate conversations about drinking
  • Stage an intervention to end drinking

Fortunately, there are support groups like Alcoholic’s Anonymous for families when a parent decides to get help for alcoholism. Not only do the parents have access to peer groups that provide support but having family members present could be motivation to be accountable for their actions.

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