What Teenagers Should Do When Dealing With Alcoholic Parents?


Alcoholism has become a pervasive social disease since thousands of years ago, our ancestors started to get drunk since they found out that fruit juices that “go bad” can be intoxicating. Just like any disease, alcoholism should be handled by experts as if it is left unabated, can bring many bad effects psychologically and physically.

If your parents drink too much, it’s none of your fault. Some teenagers often blame themselves for alcohol problems faced by their parents. Even if you help on some household chores or do better in school, it is still likely that your parents are still alcoholics. Your guilt could also be caused by their spontaneous statements, like “Stop it! You’re driving me crazy!”, but you need to understand that alcoholics may tend to express their emotion firmly during hangovers. There are many causes of alcohol abuses for example stress at work, financial problems, marital problems or social influences. Your job is to stay responsible and help your parents in any way you can.

Your parents, like any alcoholics, may have denial that can aggravate their drinking problems. They simply refuse to acknowledge that they are deep in trouble. Alcoholics often blame on their situation or on someone else as the cause of their addiction. They can become furious over the slightest mention on their drinking problem. Even those who agree to acknowledge their problems may say that “Don’t worry, my drinking habit isn’t a problem”, “Everyone drinks once a while”, “Do you know alcohol is good for your heart?” or “Well, I can stop anytime!”

Many teenagers have fluctuating life, their emotional states can go up and down rapidly, regardless of their relation with their parents. It is understandable that, teens who are forced to face alcoholics or even abusive parents can simply feel overwhelmed. They could feel anger, loneliness, helplessness, sadness, a lack of self-esteem and embarrassment all at once. Most alcoholics have unstable emotions and behaviors, while children or even other adults may have a hard time trying to cope or react with their mood swings. Today, you may try to hide and avoid their inevitable rage because you forget to mow the lawn or do the dishes and tomorrow maybe, you’ll accompany your mom for a couple of hours and trying to comfort her. Your parents may have problems to pay their bills or debts or you’re expected to do household chores and take care of your younger siblings. This pressure can exact an emotional toll even to the strongest teens, which left them both drained and exhausted.

Although your parents may face a similar set of problems like other alcoholics, their situation could be unique. Your parents may neglect your emotional and financial needs or in some cases even physically or verbally abusive. Some parents may compound their problems by using drugs, which put them in deeper problems. Teens who stay with alcoholics parents also tend to feel similarly, like feeling being unloved, alone, depressed and weighed down by the embarrassing life they need to lead at home. Because, in some cases there is little you can do to help your parents in solving their alcoholism, what should you do to help yourself?

Sadly, if you have alcoholic parents, there is a higher chance that you’ll also become alcoholics. Understanding the disastrous effects of alcoholism and reaching out for help may ensure that you won’t repeat your parents’ mistakes. You shouldn’t blame yourself for your current situation, don’t try to deny the existence of problems in your family. Admitting problems in your family is your first step in taking control of your own situation, which will help you to put things in perspective. Many teens who live with alcoholic parents may be unable to express their opinions well and show their emotion or anger, because they are concerned that it could cause their parents to have another binge. Obviously, by obscuring your emotions you may cause a new set of problems to appear. It’s alright to safely unload your resentment and anger by telling your stories to the closest friends, which you can trust to keep your secrets. Anticipating emotions that usually follow a problem can go a long way to allow you to respond effectively and minimize its negative effects.

Similarly, understanding the cause of alcoholism faced by your parents can make you feel better about your situation as you may no longer feel guilty. Because alcoholism is a common problem in our society, you may find several support groups in your area that help people who live with alcoholics. Al-Anon is a group that is created to help children and teens who have to deal with alcoholic adults. Larger organizations, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), also provide supports for people who need to deal with alcoholics everyday.

You are not betraying your parents by seeking support. Sweeping dirt under the carpet is part of a serious alcohol problem and it often allows the problems to get far worse. It’s still possible for you to love your alcoholic parents while recognizing and helping with the problems they may have. And it’s not traitorous to seek some support in dealing with your problems that are caused by your parent’s alcoholism. In fact, looking after yourself is something that your parents fail to do and you have the right to take care of yourself.

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Gary Wickman

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