July 11th, 2023
Watching your son or daughter struggle with alcohol addiction can be heartbreaking. There may be times when you feel totally powerless and unable to decide what to do. Alcoholism is a complex condition that unfortunately affects many young people across the UK. If your son or daughter is suffering from alcoholism, it’s so important that you do everything in your power to help them overcome the condition so that they can get their life back on track.
On this page, we will discuss how to help an alcoholic daughter or son,including recognising the signs of alcohol addiction, how to talk to them about your concerns and the best ways to help them before, during and after treatment.
Is my child addicted to alcohol?
Alcohol addiction can be difficult to spot, particularly if your son or daughter is away at college or university or has moved out on their own. You may not see too much of them and so it can be harder to recognise the typical signs and symptoms of alcoholism.
However, there are other signs that may indicate that your child is addicted to alcohol which you can potentially spot even if you do not see them regularly. These include:
Problems at college or university
Drinking heavily is very common among students but it can quickly lead to problems if it’s not kept under control. If your son or daughter’s grades start to slip or they suddenly stop attending classes altogether, this may be a sign that they are drinking too much. However, it’s important to remember that there could be many reasons for poor educational performance. They may be homesick, going through a breakup or just struggling with the pressure of studying so don’t jump to conclusions.
A change in your relationship with your child
If you have noticed that your son or daughter is pulling away from you and becoming more distant, this may be a sign that they are using alcohol to cope with problems in their life. They may stop coming to you with their worries like they used to or become less interested in spending time with you, preferring to drink with friends instead. If this is out of character for your child, it could be a sign that they have developed an alcohol addiction.
Being drunk or hungover at family meals or occasions
If your son or daughter is frequently drunk or hungover at family gatherings, particularly ones where drinking is not the focus, this may be a sign that they have a drinking problem. While many young people like to drink at events to have a good time, if they get drunk every time there is a meal or party or even when just spending time with you at home, this could be cause for concern.
Asking to borrow money from you
If your son or daughter is constantly asking to borrow money from you, especially if you know they make enough money or should be financially stable, this may be a sign that they are spending all their money on alcohol. This is not uncommon in the university party scene so it doesn’t definitely mean they have an addiction to alcohol. However, if it is out of character or is in conjunction with some of the other signs of alcoholism, it could be another red flag.
How can I talk to my son or daughter about their alcohol addiction?
This is a tricky question because the best way to approach your son or daughter will depend on your relationship with them. Some parents have very open relationships with their children where they are able to discuss anything while other families may find it harder to broach the topic. You may also find that your relationship with your child has been affected by their alcohol addiction and that they no longer confide in you like they used to.
Despite this, it is still important to try and talk to your child about their drinking. This isn’t always easy but here are some tips that may help you, especially if you are considering an alcohol intervention:
Don’t make assumptions
This is very important because there may be another issue rather than alcoholism that is causing changes in your son or daughter. They may be going through a tough time at college or be experiencing mental health issues. If you just assume it’s alcohol addiction, they may feel like you’re not listening to them and could withdraw even further. If you have any other children, you can ask them if they have noticed anything or whether their sibling has spoken to them about their drinking.
Choose the right time
It’s important to try and pick a time when your son or daughter is sober and relatively relaxed. This isn’t always possible, particularly if they always seem to be drunk or hungover every time they see you. Meet them for lunch or a family evening together and broach the topic calmly and honestly.
Keep it between yourselves
If your child has confided in you about their drinking, it’s important to respect their wishes and not share this information with anyone else. This includes other family members or friends as they may feel embarrassed or like you have betrayed their trust. Your support will be crucial going forward but if they feel like they can’t trust you, they may not want you involved.
Common mistakes when trying to help an alcoholic daughter or son
There are a few common mistakes that parents make when they find out their child has an alcohol addiction. The first is to try and downplay the problem or convince yourself that it’s not as bad as it seems. This can be difficult because no parent wants to think that their child has a serious problem but denial will only make the situation worse. It’s important to face up to the fact that there is an issue so you can start to look for solutions.
Another mistake is to enable your child by continuing to provide them with money or not talking to them about their drinking. This may be because you don’t want to upset them or cause a rift but it will only mean that they are able to carry on drinking without any consequences.
Finally, some parents try to force their alcoholic son or daughter into treatment without giving them a choice. This is never successful as it’s important for your child to want to get help in order for treatment to be effective. If your child isn’t ready to give up drinking, trying to force them into treatment is likely to be unsuccessful and could make things worse.
How to help an alcoholic son or daughter into treatment
If your child is willing to get help for their alcohol addiction, there are a few different things you can do to make it easier for them.
The first thing is to assure them that you love them and that you will support them all the way. If they do not currently live with you, it may be a good idea to ask if they would like to come and live with you for a while so that you can help them through this difficult time. It’s fine if they prefer their own space but make sure to visit them regularly whenever they are comfortable with you coming.
After that, help them research alcohol rehab centres and find the best one for their treatment. This can be a scary process for anyone, particularly young people, so help make it easier for them by calling centres on their behalf or going with them to visit different options.
Once they are in alcohol addiction treatment, make sure to visit them and contact them regularly by phone or by letter. This will show them that you care and are still there for them even though they are away from home. It can be difficult to see a loved one going through treatment but it’s important to remember that this is the best thing for them at this time.
How to help an alcoholic daughter or son who is not ready for rehab
It can be very frustrating and painful if your child is in denial or does not want to get treatment because they are scared or embarrassed. If this is the case, you need to be patient. Trying to force them to go to rehab, or getting angry or upset, will only make the situation worse.
The best thing you can do is to keep talking to them about their drinking and how it’s affecting them and those around them. This will show them that it is not just themselves they are hurting through their drinking. You should also establish boundaries such as cutting off any allowance you give them so that they understand you are not going to support their alcoholism in any way.
It’s important that they know you are there for them and willing to help whenever they are ready. In the meantime, try to provide as much support as possible without nagging them or pushing them away. In time, with love and support, they will come to recognise that they need help and will be grateful to you.
At UKAT, we have helped many young people overcome their alcohol addictions and go on to live happy, healthy lives. Get in touch today and we can help your alcohol child get the valuable treatment they need.