My Parent Seems to Have a Drinking Problem, What Should I Do?

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the United States and alcoholism affects millions of Americans.  It can have a severe negative effect on an individual’s personal, social, professional, and even financial life. Alcoholism also affects those closest to the addict like the children or spouse. Children of alcoholics may feel embarrassed, scared and unloved, even if they are adults. If you’ve been worried that your parent has a drinking problem, you may be wondering what you should do.

It’s important that you don’t blame yourself even if your parent blames you for their condition. Whether you’ve been dealing with your parent’s alcoholism for years or it’s a recent development, it’s not your fault. No one is responsible for another person’s addiction. By that same token, you can force someone to get well. However, you can encourage them to seek help and support them on the road to recovery. No matter how long a person has been dealing with alcoholism, recovery is possible. In this article, we’ll look at the warning signs of alcoholism and how you should approach your parent about a drinking problem.

Indicators That Your Parent is Struggling with Alcoholism

Not all alcoholics are the same. While some people show several signs, others display very few especially in the early stages of addiction. High-functioning alcoholics, in particular, are good at keeping up appearances.  Still, there are some signs of alcoholism that most addicts show. These include:

  • Frequent hangovers
  • Solo or secret drinking
  • Isolation
  • Memory loss or blackouts
  • Irritability
  • Prioritization drinking over other activities
  • Problems at home or work
  • Changes in behavior, appearance or social group

If you notice these signs, it’s likely that you need to talk to your mother or father about what’s going on with them. However, it’s best to talk to a recovery professional about how best to go about having the conversation.

Tips for Talking to Your Parent About Their Drinking Problem

Before you approach your parent, you need to be aware of a few things. Firstly, you can’t force them to change their behavior even if you think it should be obvious that they have a problem. You may not even be able to persuade them to drink less or to drink less often. Instead, you should aim to let your mom or dad know that you think they have a problem.

The conversation will likely be difficult, and you may fear that the individual will get angry or even refuse to listen. However, the conversation can be beneficial so you shouldn’t shy away from having it. You should seek professional help if you want personalized advice. In the meantime, here are some tips which concerned individuals often find useful.

  • Have a one-on-one conversation. You may be tempted to have a sibling or another family member present when you talk to your parent. However, unless violence is a concern, you should opt for a private talk with just the two of you. You don’t want mom or dad to think you’re ganging up on them.
  • Talk to your parent when they’re sober. You may be acutely aware that your parent has a problem when they’re most intoxicated. However, they won’t be receptive at this point and you’re likely to be angry or highly upset.
  • Make it clear that you’re having the talk because you love your parent and you care about their wellbeing. Beginning in this way can lay the foundation for a productive conversation and repeating it can offer reassurance.
  • Rather than accusing your parent of being reckless or trying to shame them, talk to them about what you’ve noticed. For example, you could say “I’ve noticed that you’re engaging in behaviors that could be dangerous”. You can also make reference to specific incidents that concern you.
  • Talk about how your mom or dad’s behavior has impacted you if you think it would help to get your point across.
  • Ask open-ended questions and try to facilitate a two-way conversation. You want to avoid your parent becoming defensive.
  • If mom or dad won’t admit that there’s a problem, encourage them to talk to you at another time.

Contact Asheville Recovery Center for Expert Advice

If you’re worried about your parent’s drinking, contact our team of recovery professionals. We can advise you on the best way to encourage mom or dad to seek help. When they’re ready to begin the journey towards recovery, we offer a variety of treatment options. Contact us today to get the assistance you need.