Dealing With An Alcoholic Parent
Is Your Parent An Alcoholic?
Not many people realize that alcoholism is a disease. More often than not, people assume that all an alcoholic has to do is to quit drinking. But this is usually much easier said than done. The world health organization (WHO), (ACP)the American College of Physicians and the (AMA) American Medical Association recognizes that alcoholism is a physiological disease. For the alcoholic, there is a physical craving to drink and, as the disease progresses, the body develops a physical dependency to it. Without professional assistance, an alcoholic will continue to drink and continue to become more addicted over time.
For children of alcoholics, alcoholism can bring shame and confusion. It is not uncommon for the children of alcoholics to feel as though they are responsible for their parents drinking problem. Some children may even think that the reason why their parent is drinking is because of the issues that they may have contributed. Teens who believe they are part of the issue may move out of the house or work harder to address the problem. The alcoholic parent may aggravate this blame situation by saying things like “You drive me crazy,” or “I won't take this anymore.” What any child needs to understand is that irrespective of what they believe about alcoholism, their parent's alcoholism is not the their fault regardless of what may suggest otherwise.
Alcoholism in the family causes considerable damage. Although each case is unique, alcoholism destroys familial relationships and creates an environment that is chaotic and unstable. Some alcoholic parents emotionally or physically abuse their children while others neglect their children by denying them counseling and nurturing. Most alcoholics behave impulsively. Children are often faced with trying to appease their parent’s moods. They may feel as though it’s their job to “parent” their parents. One minute they may be avoiding an argument and the next they may find themselves consoling a parent who promises that things will be okay. Even though each family is unique, children with an alcoholic parent often feel lonely, depressed, unloved and burdened by secrecy.
When dealing with alcoholism in the family, it’s important to get into action. Doing nothing will only further enable the alcoholic. Fleeing, hiding, or pretending that they really isn’t a problem is not a solution.
One way to get into action is to reach out for help. Talking with friends, relatives or counselors may be the first step. If you are a child of an alcoholic, you might want to discuss the problem with a mature adult such as a school counselor, coach or teacher. There are groups such as ALONON and ALATEEN which can provide added support and information. It’s important to recognize that you are not betraying your parent by seeking help. You can continue to be supportive of your parent while trying to improve things for both yourself and your entire family.
For more on How To Help An Alcoholic, please click here.