Dealing With an Alcoholic Parent: Coping Strategies | How to Deal With an Alcoholic Parent and Get Help

How to Deal With an Alcoholic Parent at Any Age

It can be hard to figure out if a parent has a problem with alcohol abuse since 86.4% of Americans drink alcohol at least once in their life and it’s not uncommon for adults to have a glass of wine or a beer with a meal. However, if a parent drinks a lot, frequently smells like alcohol, and has trouble following up on responsibilities, they may be an alcoholic. No one expects to have an alcoholic parent in their life, but it does happen, and it can be upsetting, confusing, and heartbreaking. But while living with an alcoholic can be tough to admit and even harder to deal with, there are some strategies you can use to help yourself and your parent to cope.

Step 1: Understanding the Problem of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a very personal disorder. People begin drinking for many different reasons, which they may not want to talk about. A parent may drink more frequently when they go out with friends or to help them relax after having trouble at work. As they continue to drink, they begin to associate alcohol with feeling good. The brain has a harder time naturally producing dopamine, the chemical responsible for pleasant feelings, which makes it more difficult to stop drinking for an extended period of time.

Step 2: Recognizing That You’re Living With an Alcoholic Parent

If you’re living with an alcoholic parent, their alcoholism may have a daily, negative impact on your life. Teenagers may notice that a parent with alcoholism has trouble paying bills or upholding family obligations. They may also lash out, either with words or actions, and it may be hard to predict what they’ll do next. Alcohol changes the way the brain works, and this can result in a normal loving, soft-spoken parent becoming loud or aggressive.

One of the most important things to remember is that a parent’s alcohol problem is not your fault and not your responsibility to fix. Alcoholics need individualized rehabilitation to get better. Alcoholism is a disease, and while it can’t ever be completely cured, it can be treated. Many people with histories of alcohol abuse go on to live healthy, sober lives.

Step 3: Learning How to Deal With an Alcoholic Parent

As much as we may want to look after those we care about, the first step to dealing with having an alcoholic parent is realizing that your own well-being and safety must come first. If the situation becomes unsafe or abusive, find a safe place where you can stay.

When they are ready to begin recovery, you can help them find a rehab program that would be right for them. However, until they reach this stage, it is important to protect yourself from the mental and emotional side effects of their drinking. It may help to start a journal or seek counseling for your own emotions or thoughts.

Step 4: Dealing With an Alcoholic Parent’s Need for Treatment

The actions of an alcoholic parent can be embarrassing, and it may be tempting to pretend that nothing’s wrong. However, the issue must be acknowledged before it can be addressed. Express your concerns to your parent. You cannot force your parent to seek treatment, but you can talk to them about how their behavior has changed and any worries you may have about their health.

If you’re dealing with alcoholic parent behavior, you may run up against accusations that you are being too sensitive or interfering in someone else’s personal business. These denials may help your parent feel better about their decisions, but they do nothing to begin the crucial process of healing. If your parent refuses to admit that they have a drinking problem, you may need to talk to an expert or medical professional. The rest of the family may need to convene in an intervention to address the problem.

If you need help figuring out how to deal with an alcoholic parent or how to find the right rehab program for them, call our phone line, available 24/7. You can also fill out our form here to get assistance from our staff of skilled addiction professionals. When your parent is ready to get the help they need, Tampa Drug Treatment Center will be here for you.