Dealing with an Alcoholic Parent

Understand what alcoholism is

An alcoholic is a person whose life is consumed and controlled by alcoholic substances. People who are alcohol dependent rely on alcohol in order to function. Some people are not just emotionally dependent on alcohol, but can be physically reliant on the substance, causing them to shake or become sick when they have not consumed alcohol for a while.

The first step as a child with an alcoholic parent is to learn more about the disease of addiction and its control over the lives of your entire family, not just the alcoholic. Below is a list of reasons why people turn to drink to help them emotionally:

  • Stress
  • Greif
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Childhood trauma
  • Depression
  • Pain

Do not argue or engage in lengthy conversations

When your parent is in an intoxicated state, it is generally no use arguing with them about their drinking habits for two reasons. Firstly, the person may get angry and give you physical or verbal abuse which further damages your relationship with them and can put you in danger. Secondly, alcohol is a mind and mood altering drug, therefore when questioned or ‘nagged’ about their bad drinking habits, you will often receive lies, excuses and general pointless arguments that they may not even remember. Therefore it is better to save your time and energy by discussing things when your parent is sober as it can feel like a constant battle of words trying to get a message through to someone you love and care for.

 Do not enable someone with an alcohol dependency

 It can be hard to notice if you are enabling someone as you are so preoccupied worrying about them and you also fully believe that you are helping them. Unfortunately, you are wrong. Enablers help alcoholics delude themselves that drinking isn’t causing their lives harm. The definition of enabling:

“Giving someone the authority or means to do something”

This may not ring a bell for you, but maybe these examples below will help you realise if you are enabling your parent’s drinking:

  • Giving the person money to buy alcohol
  • Buying alcohol for someone
  • Letting them drink in your house
  • Bailing them out of trouble caused by their drinking
  • Giving them lifts to and from places where they can buy alcohol
  • Accepting excuses
  • Drinking alcohol with them
  • Doing their ‘dirty work’ such as phoning to pay bills or phoning their work to tell them they are sick

So what can you suggest to make things better?


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an excellent choice of therapy for treating alcoholic behaviour, as it shows a person how to change their drinking behaviour.

Counselling can also help tackle the underlying problems that make a person drink such as self esteem issues, stress etc. It is recommended that everyone suffering from the disease of addiction should undertake counselling of some sort in order to remain abstinent.

Residential Rehabilitation Programmes

Residential rehabs are intensely focused programmes with 24 hours a week support from addiction workers. The client should be in the care centre for a minimum of 28 days in order to gain the full benefit of the therapies offered. Below is a list of the usual therapies and facilities found at a residential rehab:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Key working
  • Step work (The 12 steps to recovery)
  • Introduction to mutual aid groups such as the Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Detoxification programme
  • Life planning
  • Family counselling or support groups
  • Stress management
  • Meditation
  • Holistic therapies e.g. massage, facials etc
  • Yoga
  • Gym & swimming facilities
  • 5 star bedrooms and catering
  • Equine therapy
  • Music & art therapy
  • Heart math

Alcoholism not only affects the alcoholic but also the family. If you or a family member is suffering from the disease of addiction, don’t hesitate to contact one of our advisers for free, friendly advise on +44 (0) 7586 805 221.




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