Living with alcoholism is not easy. It can affect one’s health, occupation, and especially their social life. Sadly, alcoholism never affects just one person though. Oftentimes, an individual’s alcoholism will affect those around them; this can include their co-workers, friends, and worst of all, their family. In many cases, an alcoholic may also be a parent. While helping an alcoholic parent can be challenging, it is possible if a person knows what signs to look for and how to approach the situation.
What is Alcoholism?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcoholism is a medical condition that occurs in an individual when they have an impaired ability to control their consumption of alcohol. Whether an individual wants to stop using alcohol or not, they are an alcoholic if they are unable to exercise control despite any consequences to their health, occupation, social life, or parental responsibilities. However, there are different levels of severity based on how much or how little control a person has over their alcohol consumption.
The Signs of an Alcoholic Parent
Alcoholism affects every person differently. The signs of an alcoholic will almost never be exactly the same between two people. Some may exhibit all of the signs while some may only exhibit one or two.
In any case, the signs of an alcoholic parent often include:
- Excusing drinking behavior
- Prioritizing drinking (often over other responsibilities)
- Frequent hangovers
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- General irritability
- Drinking in secret
- Difficulties with finances or at work
- Changes in appearance, behavior, or social life
How to Approach an Alcoholic Parent
The lifestyle of an alcoholic parent is typically damaging not only for the parent but for their child or children as well. To stop this, It is important for an alcoholic parent to commit to recovery and seek help. In doing so, they can not only improve their lives but the lives of those around them. However, due to the nature of alcoholism and its effect on the brain and one’s impulse control, a commitment to recovery is often difficult for many alcoholics to make.
In order to successfully approach an alcoholic, it must be done with this fact in mind: No one can force an alcoholic parent to change. Change can only start when a person living with alcoholism is willing to commit to recovery. If a person is genuinely concerned about an alcoholic parent and wants to approach them about their alcoholism, it is best to use the following tips:
- Never approach an alcoholic parent alone (have someone with you)
- Do not try to convince the person they have a problem (express concern that they might have a problem)
- Do not approach the person if they are intoxicated
- Do not approach the person if you are intoxicated
- Emphasize that you are approaching them out of concern and care
- List behaviors and incidents and why they concern you
- Ensure that the conversation is a 2-way conversation (do not lecture or attack)
Approaching an alcoholic parent can be challenging, but it may be exactly what they need to seek out and commit to recovery. Always remember to be sympathetic and not accusatory.
What to Do if an Alcoholic Parent Refuses Help
Sadly, if an alcoholic parent refuses help, there are few options going forward. If you do not believe that the child or children of an alcoholic parent are in immediate danger, it may be best to attempt to approach them with your concerns again in the future. However, if you do believe that the child or children of an alcoholic parent are in danger or in need of assistance, you may choose to call the local police or sheriff’s department to conduct a welfare check. Law enforcement will check on the family, conduct an inspection, and contact Child Protective Services if they deem it necessary.
Recovery Through Treatment and Rehabilitation
Living with or knowing an alcoholic parent can be distressing. There is never a clear path one should take when trying to address a person’s alcoholism. Typically, the best option is to approach an alcoholic parent with their concerns and encourage them to seek treatment and rehabilitation. However, if one suspects that the child or children of an alcoholic parent are in danger, calling the local police is a necessity.
No matter how severe an individual’s alcoholism may be, recovery is possible. Contact us today at Knoxville Recovery Center to learn more about all the options we have for treatment and rehabilitation. Our team of addiction specialists can help a person become sober and prepare them to live a life in recovery.