Coping With a Parent With Alcoholism: A Guide

Children with alcoholic parents have first-hand experience of how heartbreaking it is to have your loved one deal with substance abuse. If you live with and are coping with your parent’s alcoholism, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that there are ways to deal with the situation. Addiction, especially to alcohol and drugs, harms a person’s health and changes them into different people from what we know them.

As an experienced DWI attorney, the Law Offices of George A. Scharmen has seen many people troubled when their parents deal with a DWI charge as a consequence of alcohol addiction, and we want to help.

Here’s how to deal with parents with alcoholism.

Signs of an Alcoholic

About 1 in 12 men and 1 in 25 women have an alcohol use disorder, which may include your parents. The first step is to confirm whether your parents are dealing with alcoholism. It’s important to remember that people exhibit different signs of addiction. Some common signs include the following:

  • Mood swings and getting quickly irritated over minor things
  • Blackouts and gaps in memory
  • Making excuses for excess drinking and bad behavior
  • Isolating themselves from family and friends
  • Drinking in secrecy and prioritizing drinking over obligations
  • High frequency of hangovers
  • Changes in behavior, appearance, and social presence


What It’s Like To Live With Alcoholic Parents?

Living with parents with alcoholism is extremely difficult. It affects how you feel and act; their behavior towards familial relationships also becomes problematic. According to research, there is increased conflict, emotional distancing, and unbalanced support and care between partners when one of them is dealing with alcoholism. Similar feelings and actions are found when children deal with parents with alcoholism.

Some people may worry for themselves, their siblings, and even their parents. Others may feel angry, sad, or embarrassed. Moreover, frustration and feeling unsafe around them are also common. If you’ve dealt with their alcoholism from a young age, it may have forced you to grow up faster than your peers. You may resent your parents for forcing you to become an adult before you were ready. It’s important to remember that this situation is complex, and all your feelings are valid.

What Can You Do?

A study has found that 1 in 8 American adults struggle with alcoholism. Alcohol abuse can lead to severe health problems, cost people their jobs, and destroy their relationships with their families. In extreme cases, people with this condition can cause harm to others while drinking under the influence. No one wants their parents sitting in a trial next to a DWI attorney fearful, guilty, and embarrassed. This can even lead to a guilty feeling inside children of parents with alcoholism. There are some steps that you can follow to help yourself and your parents.

1. Avoid Feeling Guilty

Research has reported that children that have parents with alcoholism or another substance use disorder feel guilty and frustrated. If one or both of your parents are dealing with alcoholism, you mustn’t think it’s your fault. Speak to an expert about getting support. Never feel that you need to do it on your own. In many cases, children feel some responsibility for the addiction. So, this tip may be easier said than done. But the fact is, alcoholism is an illness, and there’s nothing you could have done to prevent their addiction. Alcoholism requires treatment like any other disease.


2. Don’t Enable Them

Alcohol cravings can be bad. When someone starts craving it, they will do anything to get their hands on a bottle. Although it may seem easier to give in, enabling them is akin to shielding them from experiencing the consequences of substance abuse. In some cases, it will feel heart-wrenching to say no, but you have to stand your ground.

3. Avoid Arguing When They’re Intoxicated

Dealing with parents with alcoholism is a challenging situation. Your first reaction after seeing a parent in denial about their addiction might be to force them to acknowledge their alcoholism. However, if you try to force them to realize this, it will backfire. It will push them away from you, and they may become physically or verbally abusive in the worst cases.

People who are under the influence don’t have the clearest minds. They can lie, skirt the issue, or manipulate it. Alcohol affects the brain, causing blackouts and memory gaps; they likely won’t even remember what they said in the heat of the moment.

4. Understand The Process of Recovery

Overcoming alcohol addiction is a long and bumpy road. Some days it will feel even impossible. If you want to be a part of the recovery, you must alter your own responses and reactions, such as changing old ideas and behaviors that enabled your parents or left you in denial. It will be an ongoing recovery where you will have to work towards separation from unhealthy habits and develop more mature responses. 

5. Take Care of Yourself

While you’re trying to help your parents with alcoholism and support them in overcoming it, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Children of alcoholic parents might be in a unique position to help them, but if you’re not properly cared for, it will drain you quickly. Make an appointment with a therapist to voice your thoughts and frustrations to a neutral third party.


6. Suggest Rehab

Even if you support your parents to the best of your abilities, there’s a limit to what you can do. The best solution for alcohol addiction is rehab. Once they complete rehab, roughly 85% to 95% of people successfully cross the nine-month mark without giving in to their addiction.

Experienced DWI Attorney In San Antonio, Texas

People make mistakes, especially while under the influence. If your parents, siblings, or your friends were under the influence and were involved in an accident or caught driving under it, you will need a DWI attorney.

If you’re looking for a DWI attorney in San Antonio, feel free to connect with us at the Law Offices of George A. Scharmen. I am an experienced DWI lawyer in Texas who stands by your side to improve your case's outcome and reduce your jail time from DWI arrests. Get in touch today!

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