You’ve realized that your child has an alcohol problem. This is not your fault, but it is now your responsibility to find help for your child. What do you do?
Should You Confront an Alcoholic About Their Drinking?
We know that this is incredibly difficult for you — you never dreamed your child would need rehab, and wish the alcohol issue would just go away on its own. But imagine this scenario: if you saw a gaping wound on your child’s arm, you would immediately bring them to do the doctor.
Similarly, alcoholism is a disease that also requires medical treatment. Just like an open wound, alcohol addiction will only fester and worsen if left untreated. Youth drinking statistics are staggering:
- 35% of high school students drank some amount of alcohol in the past 30 days
- People aged 12–20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed
- 52% of 10th graders believe it’s easy to obtain alcohol
The longer that your child’s alcohol abuse continues, the more dire the consequences and the more difficult treatment will be. Talk to your child as soon as you can about any issues you’re seeing. They need you now more than ever — they cannot fix this problem on their own. We can help you through it.
How to Talk to Someone About Their Drinking Problem
Confronting addiction can be tricky. Understand that conversations are more effective than confrontations — nobody responds well to accusatory remarks. That said, there is a wrong way and a right way to broach the subject.
We’ve outlined a few of our most effective tips below:
- Wait Until They Are Sober, If Possible — Your message may not sink in if your child has been drinking too much when you initiate this discussion. This will most likely be early in the day. Moreover, if you are able to catch your child when they are hungover, their physical discomfort could help drive the point home.
- Offer Concern, Not Judgment — Use caring words that show you are concerned for your child. Use “I” statements. You might say something like, “I love you very much and I am concerned for your health. I’ve noticed that you have been getting drunk a lot. I know that sometimes it’s hard to stop drinking once you have started.”
- Be Prepared for Pushback — Your teen may deny that they have a problem. They might claim that their drinking habits are the same as all their friends, and that no one has a problem. Be prepared to point out specific examples of the impact that your teen’s drinking has had on their life. Perhaps their grades have dipped, they have missed school, lost friends, landed in the hospital or gotten into legal trouble — all of which are consequences of drugs and alcohol abuse.
- Stay Calm — Even if your child becomes angry or combative, remain on an even keel. Assure your child that you are not going to punish them for their drinking — you just want them to get better.
- Tell Them You Love Them — Say this over and over. A teenager can never hear this phrase enough from their parents. This should be the overarching theme of your conversation.
- Get Professional Help — If you are not comfortable bringing up this subject alone, enlist the help of a treatment professional. This might be a trusted therapist who specializes in addiction, your child’s school guidance counselor, or one of our addiction specialists at TheRecoveryVillage.com, whose confidential help is available for free.
Does Your Child Need Alcoholism Treatment?
The stigma of alcoholism can often deter families from seeking the help they need. If you need some free guidance in this matter (or just some moral support as you get ready to have the conversation), we are here for you. Call us or drop us a line any time.
Our experienced addiction experts also can help you find just the right alcohol rehab program. If you need help wading through the sea of insurance requirements, we can guide you through that. If you just want a listening ear, we are available for you.
“Fact Sheets – Underage Drinking.” CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 02 Sept. 2016.