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For many people, alcohol is just an ordinary part of life. Alcohol can be enjoyed recreationally without necessarily leading to alcoholism or substance abuse. This can make it hard to determine if your son is an alcoholic.
However, there are a few signs you can look out for:
Addiction wreaks havoc on many families. It can leave many people feeling isolated, vulnerable, and afraid. Knowing what to do with an alcoholic son can help you and your family heal from the effects of alcoholism.
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Many factors can contribute to your son’s alcoholism, including:
Coping with a son’s alcoholism is one of the most challenging experiences a parent can have. When you have a child with alcohol use disorder (AUD), it tests boundaries, affects your well-being, and puts a strain on your marriage.
It can also negatively impact your relationship with other family members, especially children. Understanding substance use and alcoholism is one of the most important things you can do if your child struggles with addiction.
There are many things you can do to help your alcoholic son, including:
When your son is experiencing alcoholism, you will do more harm than good if you do not take care of yourself. You must practice good self-care during this period. Self-care may involve:
When you consider these needs, you protect your immune system, energy levels, and cognitive abilities. These strengthen your resiliency, making you effective in managing the bigger problem.
If your son struggles with alcoholism, it's important to know as much about the condition as possible. There are plenty of nuances that go into addiction and alcoholism. For example, problem drinking doesn't necessarily mean someone has an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Alcohol can have a significant impact on the brain and the body. It's also important to know the symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Knowing what to expect with alcoholism can help you better prepare yourself and your son for it. Most importantly, educating yourself can be vital in ensuring your son's safety.
There are many programs created to help people who struggle with alcoholism. These include:
Finding the right treatment program for your son can help increase the chances of a successful recovery. Ensuring that they have the appropriate support and aftercare treatment is also important.
Most parents don’t want to accept or believe their son is an alcoholic. They may tell themselves various things to reject or account for their son’s drinking, including:
However, by living in denial, you are not helping your son when he requires it most. As a parent, it is essential to come to terms with your son’s alcoholism. Do your best to remove feelings of guilt or shame so you can get your son the help he needs.
Intervention is one of the most effective tools parents and other family members have for dealing with an alcoholic loved one. This is especially true if the alcoholic loved one doesn’t want help.
Interventions led by an addiction professional increase the odds that the person with AUD will enter treatment and that treatment will be successful.
An environment with easy access to alcohol can be a detriment to recovery. To ensure the best possible chance of recovery, it's best to avoid situations or places where your son can be tempted to start drinking.
These situations and environments involve:
Developing a healthy interest in something new can help your son avoid alcohol. These new hobbies or interests can help them distract themselves from alcohol and lessen the chance of crossing paths with enabling situations.
Furthermore, hobbies can help them explore new places, meet new people, and find happiness in new things. These activities can provide an outlet to have fun and express themselves outside of alcohol.
Empathy and enabling can easily go hand-in-hand. Both often come from a place of compassion and a place to help. However, the outcomes are different.
Enabling allows unhealthy and self-destructive behaviors to continue. This may worsen the problem rather than solve it.
On the other hand, empathetic parents offer emotional support and encourage their children to confide in them about stress and other issues related to their drinking.
While empathy is important, you also need to understand where to draw the line. You should never enable your son’s drinking. Enabling comes in various forms:
Some ways to stop enabling your alcoholic son may include:
Understanding the distinction between empathy and enabling is challenging for parents. It might help to seek counseling to help you manage your role in your son’s life.
Yes. Both genetic and environmental factors play a major role in someone’s risk of developing alcoholism. For example, a male with an alcoholic parent, especially a father, has a high risk of being an alcoholic. Men are twice as likely as women to develop alcoholism.7
This is due to genetic factors that biologically increase the odds of alcoholism. In addition, environmental factors, such as living with an alcoholic, can make someone more prone to alcoholism.
You might not convince your alcoholic son to get help, but there are things you can do to encourage him to take that road himself.
Accept that you might face resistance if you confront him about his drinking or suggest that he get help. That doesn’t mean he won’t eventually enter recovery.
You need to realize you cannot control his behavior. The only thing you control is how you respond to his drinking and whether or not you enable his alcoholism.
If you choose to confront your alcoholic son, think carefully about what you want to say. The goal is to open the door to effective communication while respecting whatever boundaries you set with him.
Begin the conversation when your son is sober and do not attack or place blame. Explain how his actions affect you and the rest of the family and suggest treatment options. Loved ones are a big reason for alcoholics to seek help.
There is support available for parents of alcoholic sons. Al-Anon is one of the most accessible and effective support groups available.
The Al-Anon program is based on the 12-steps developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and provides a peer support environment for those who care about people with AUD.
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