How to Help an Alcoholic Parent
According to statistics provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services, there are thought to be around 17.6 million adults in the United States who suffer from alcoholism. If you are looking for information on how to help an alcoholic parent, there is a wealth advice and support available. However, there are things you can also do yourself that will help you address your parents' drinking problem.
Learn about Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a disease, which produces symptoms just like any other disease or illness. Just as with most diseases, there is treatment available for alcoholics if they choose to seek it. If you truly are thinking my parents drink too much, educating yourself on alcoholism will help you understand how bad the problem is and what the next step is as far as getting your parents to consider treatment. There is a lot of information on the Internet regarding alcoholism and its effects, you can also find out more about the treatment process and what it entails.
Depending on how severe your parents' alcoholism is, they may well be in denial. This means they may not even realize their drinking has become a problem. They could also be aware they are alcohol-dependent, but may be reluctant to admit it for fear of stereotyping. This means you will need to time your intervention, or when you confront them about their alcoholism, wisely. Do not bring up the issue if you suspect they have been drinking or if they are drunk. This will increase the chances of a negative confrontation and make it less likely they will seek help. Instead, choose a quiet moment when you can sit down with them together and express your concerns about their drinking. Use what you have learned about alcoholism to back up what you are saying and reassure them that you are serious about supporting them both through treatment. According to the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), family intervention is often the turning point for many alcoholics, as they are provided with the motivation to seek help.
How to Help Others Struggling with Alcohol
Once your parents' have committed to a treatment program, it is important you do not make excuses for them if they relapse or continue drinking. According to the NIAAA, it is common for an alcoholic's family to make excuses if they continue drinking or if they suffer a relapse. By covering up or excusing your parents' relapses, you are enabling them to continue to drink with no conscience. For every excuse you make, it is telling both of them it is okay to carry on drinking. Feelings of frustration are normal but you should avoid continually confronting your parents about their drinking, especially if you are doing it to try to make them feel guilty.
While there is plenty of support available for an alcoholic, it is just as important for their family to get the support they also need. Groups such as Co-Dependents Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous both run self-help and support groups for the loved ones of an alcoholic. Admitting to strangers that my parents are alcoholics is not easy, but you will be sharing your story with people who are experiencing something similar to you. These groups can provide invaluable support for you, which will help you better support your parents' alcoholism treatment.
Enjoy Family Time
One of the biggest problems for an alcoholic in recovery is boredom. Alcohol becomes such a large part of a person's life; it is hard to fill the void it leaves when a person starts treatment. Be mindful of this and try to keep your parents busy. Visit them often or take them out to places where alcohol is not available. You should also encourage them to take up a new interest or hobby, anything that keeps them busy and their minds off wanting to have a drink.
You could also consider ringing an alcoholism helpline, where you will be able to get more advice and information on how to help an alcoholic parent.