Mom and Son Outdoors

How to Help an Alcoholic Child

As a parent, realizing your son or daughter’s drinking problem may have transitioned into alcoholism can be devastating. Alcoholism is a disease that can tear a family apart and can take once-healthy relationships and throw them into chaos. However, there are ways to help your child overcome this disease.

Is my child an alcoholic?

The transition from problem-drinking to alcoholism is subtle and focuses on dependence, desire and an inability to choose not to drink. Alcoholism is, by definition, a physical and psychological need to drink. This dependence is what transforms your child’s drinking problem into something much more damaging – alcoholism.

Signs of an alcoholic child

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) affects 6.2% of American adults and is defined by specific criteria laid out by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, young adults have a far higher percentage of AUD, with a significantly higher percentage of college-age adults meeting the criteria for AUD.

Any craving or need to drink indicates potential alcoholism, but sometimes that is hard to notice if you are not the one dealing with the drinking problem.

Here are a few frequent signs that you can watch for in your son or daughter to tell if they have become an alcoholic:

  • Your child drinks frequently or binge-drinks
    Drinking occasionally is not a sign of alcoholism, but an everyday desire to drink is a clear indicator of a drinking problem. It is not normal to need to drink to have a good time. Frequent binge-drinking, defined as five or more drinks over a two-hour period in men and four or more drinks over a two-hour period in women, can indicate alcoholism as well.
  • Alcohol is damaging your child’s life
    Whether it is as simple as missing work, class or other obligations due to drinking, making dangerous decisions with alcohol or even changing their social groups to fit their desire to drink, all are signs that your child’s drinking problem may have transformed into alcoholism.
  • Alcohol is damaging the people around your son or daughter
    It could be you, it could be your family, it could be their family or it could even be their friends, but when drinking affects your child’s relationships negatively then it is a sign that they may be dealing with alcoholism and need help.

Alcoholic Son vs. Alcoholic Daughter

While alcoholism is a disease that does not choose between men and women, there are slight differences when it comes to AUD and the statistics.

What should I do if my child is showing signs of alcoholism?

Talk to them. Plan out a method to talk to your child about how their alcohol problem is damaging their life and the lives of those around them. Make sure to be understanding, compassionate and listen. This problem is affecting them in negative ways too, so it will be easier to get through to them if they believe you understand and want to help them. Don’t blame them, but hold them accountable. Alcoholism is a disease, but it is a long process to recover from – a promise to drink less does not mean that your child is suddenly no longer an alcoholic.

What should I not do as a parent? Enabling vs. Non-Enabling

Don’t enable your child’s alcohol problem. Enabling can be very damaging to the recovery process. Examples of enabling could be bailing them out of jail, providing a safe place for them to get drunk, drinking with them, giving them money to spend on alcohol or taking care of most of their responsibilities. It is natural to want to help someone you love during this tough time, but helping them recover is more important than covering for them.

Is professional help an option for my child?

Professional help is always an option with alcoholism. Family therapy is a great way to try and discuss sensitive issues such as alcoholism, as is a professional interventionist if your son or daughter does not seem to want help. Both of these resources can be invaluable in getting your child the help they need.

More serious professional help

Outpatient facilities with group and family therapy options may work for some, but sometimes alcoholism requires much more intensive care. In these cases, there are residential facilities in which your son or daughter can stay and get the help that they need in a safe, healthy environment, as well as the resources required to live a life in recovery after their stay.

How can I get professional help?

Alcoholism can be beaten – but you don’t have to do this alone. If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol problem, there are professionals who can help. Call us now to find out how to get your child the help that they – and you – deserve.

Does getting help work?

Our research outcomes show that getting help for your child does work. Days of use for alcohol were cut in more than half six-months post-discharge and remained steady at the one-year mark.

In addition, 18 to 25-year-olds who checked into a Foundations facility were asked: “how many days in the prior 30 have you had a serious conflict with your mom?” The most common answer was 30. At 6-months post-discharge, the average answer to the same question was 8.6.

Getting help works, and the numbers back it up. Please reach out today at 706-914-2327 to talk about finding help for you or your child who deals with alcoholism.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at Black Bear Lodge. For more specific information on programs at Black Bear Lodge, contact us today.