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BBawlight's avatar

What should I do if I think my parents are drinking too much?

Asked by BBawlight (2400points) July 7th, 2013

Honestly, I believe that my parents are alcoholics. They drink a bottle of rum mixed with soda every night, and it’s really starting to get to me. They argue at least three times a week, and sometimes it gets a bit rough.

I want my brother and I to talk to them about this problem, but I don’t think they’ll listen to us. What do I do?

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28 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

For starters, how old are you and your brother? I grew up with a alcoholic dad and it would help to know if you are 17 or 11.

BBawlight's avatar

@johnpowell Oh… I forget about age all the time. I’m 14 and my brother is 13. It’s been like this for a while. I don’t remember if it’d always been this way, but I know it’s been like this for about a
year.

YARNLADY's avatar

Talk to a trusted relative or teacher. Contact Al-Anon for teens.

Remember you are not responsible for your parents or their behavior.

augustlan's avatar

Al-Anon is a good place to start.

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GoldieAV16's avatar

I’d go to Al-Anon or a relative before I’d go to a teacher. Some people, teachers included, are required by law to report abusive situations in the home, and some over zealous or CYA type might go to Children’s Protective Services – probably not the place this needs to go.

Can you talk to a grandparent? They would share your concerns, and might be in a better position to talk to your parents about getting some counseling for the problem if they know the extent to which it’s occurring, and how it’s affecting you and your brother.

I feel for you. You’re in a tough situation. Worst case scenario, you just have to live with it, in which case both of you put on your headsets, crank up the volume and watch TV or listen to music and tune them out. Some people can’t handle alcohol well, and it just makes them act stupid. It doesn’t mean they are stupid, and they’re not bad people, just people who don’t handle drinking well.

marinelife's avatar

You cannot change your parents behavior including their drinking. You should go to Al-Anon to learn about how alcoholism works and to get some support for yourself and your brother.

Do either of your parents have siblings? If you like and trust an aunt or uncle you could talk to them about staging an extended family intervention, but I do not think you and your brother should confront your parents.

I am sorry that this is happening to you. Take care.

ETpro's avatar

I’d just add that a half a 5th of hard liquor per person per night as a routine thing is definitely alcoholism, and it’s a progressive habit. That’s enough booze to render an average sized adult very intoxicated. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I wish you the best in finding a solution to it.

Beantowngal's avatar

Does their drinking interfere with life such as their jobs, relationships with other family members, or being responsible? I think it is difficult but let them suffer the consequences of their behavior, do not make excuses for them. That is called enabeling and is not helpful to people that need to realize they have an issue. i would start with a family member, but if you do not see positive results i would not hesitate to go to another trusted adult. Al anon for teens would be a great resource for you and your brother. You have been given some good advice by many on here. Please keep us updated.

Sunny2's avatar

Don’t confront them. They’ll likely get angry and belligerent. Talk to an aunt or uncle , the closer to your parent, the better. They may be able to talk to their brother or sister more easily than you. Al-Anon will help you learn how to cope with the situation.

LornaLove's avatar

A family intervention might help where a couple of relatives get together to intervene. There is plenty of information on family interventions. It should be run by a main speaker who remains calm and keeps things on track. Also don’t use the intervention to put them down, by calling them alcoholics for example. Have some treatment options available if they agree. AA is free and perhaps a sponsor will offer to help in the intervention.

BBawlight's avatar

I understand the part where you tell me not to confront them, but I don’t have anyone I can talk to about it. I’m not particularly close to any of my uncles, aunts, or grandparents, and I know that they all do the same thing.
I don’t know anyone that will be able to help. My 20 year old cousin told me that he’s going to tell my dad that he’s not coming over any more until my dad stops drinking, and they’re almost father and son with how close they are. Honestly, I think my cousin’s my only chance.

@Beantowngal I don’t think that their drinking interferes with those things, since they don’t drink during the day. It might be affecting his performance at work since I don’t think it’s very healthy for you to drink that much alcohol accompanied by soda. He unloads trucks at warehouses and stuff, so…

I don’t make excuses for them. My mom says that the alcohol helps her sleep since she has insomnia, but that’s just a load of crap. She doesn’t need to get drunk to be able to sleep.

LornaLove's avatar

@BBawlight Perhaps they have other issues really like anxiety and depression? Some people use alcohol to self medicate.

Buttonstc's avatar

I spent most of my childhood in an alcoholic home so I know some of what you’re dealing with.

Al-anon wasn’t around (for teens) when I was your age but I think that its really important for you and your brother to be able to talk to others who are walking in your footsteps so you don’t feel so overwhelmed and isolated.

The first thing to do is find the phone number for the local AA (yellow pages or online). The phones are only answered by others who have gone through dealing with alcoholism (not some bored answerring service operator). Be honest and tell them you would like to be able to go to Al anon meetings. They will most likely be able to arrange a ride for you since you don’t drive yet.

Unless you live in Outer Mongolia , there should be several groups within convenient distance. Whether its a teen or adult group isn’t necessarily what’s most important (since you’ve been a member here for awhile, I’ve read enough of your posts to resize that you are extremely intelligent and mature for your age and fit in fine with adults)

What’s important is that you find a group that you feel comfortable with. Trying to deal with your parents alcoholism is tough and you don’t have to feel so alone. Others have gone through and are going through exactly what you are and are usually very welcoming and helpful to newcomers.

As far as dealing with your parents, I hate to be blunt, but alcoholism is a disease of denial. Every attempt to face them with reality will likely be met with denial and minimizing.

This will be the likely response when your cousin confronts them as well.

But at least you have one family member that you can confide in.

Just realize that in 3–4 years you and your brother will be out of the house either in college or working.

I would also suggest educating yourself as much as possible about what dealing with alcoholism involves. There are many good books out nowadays with accurate helpful advice that I wished had been around when I was in my teens. (Feel free to PM me and I can hunt up my list for you ).

Although it may be possible at some future time to stage a planned intervention with the help of your cousin and other family members, the most important thing right now is for you to find some support. Obviously it’s not something you normally talk with your friends at school about, so its important that you find others with whom you can share and ask questions, others who are going through the same stuff.

Please don’t blow off the suggestion of Al anon. It can be helpful in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Make that phone call soon. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did (and if you’re not, you can yell at me in PMs and tell me why :)

BBawlight's avatar

@Buttonstc Thanks, I might call Al anon (even though it’ll be hard for me to do… I get anxious over the phone…). I don’t really feel alone or isolated, more like hurt. The arguments they have are hard for me since I have no idea what’s going to happen the next time they argue.
I know that they’re in denial and don’t realize the problems they are causing, and I don’t feel like it’s my fault or anything. It just hurts to see them like this.

Judi's avatar

I wonder if there are any alanon chat rooms? I just wonder if they will have a problem telling their parents where they’re going. I googled it

JLeslie's avatar

@BBawlight Since you mention your mom makes the excuse she needs the alcohol to sleep, I would think you already have said things to her about her drinking? If not, I think it is ok to one time sit with them and tell them you think their drinking interferes with the family having fun together and you worry they are becoming alcoholics. They will probably make excuses and deny it. Just say “ok” don’t fight with them. There, now you have said it.

I think al anon is a good idea also for support.

Lastly, and I mean this with every bit of seriousness, this is my most important point, never never drink. Your parents are both alcoholics, and it sounds like your family is full of them. You probably have a strong genetic possibility to be one yourself. It is not “normal” in every family to have a drink when someone gets home, when they go out to eat, when there is a party, etc. It is normal in a lot of families, they think everyone does it, whether it is one beer, or a whole bottle of scotch, but it isn’t true, many many people don’t drink. Also, not everyone drinks in high school. You can avoid this addiction as you get older if you avoid alcohol altogether.

BBawlight's avatar

@JLeslie I have, and it doesn’t turn out well. Lately she’s been more aggressive towards me when I bring up certain things, not just drinking, even though I’m not aggressive at all towards her. She just thinks I am. I think it’s the stress that’s getting to her. It seems like everyone’s putting pressure on her nowadays… I don’t understand what she’s going through, but I can perceive how she thinks, and her mind is very cloudy.

I made up my mind about my future drinking habits a long time ago. I don’t ever want to drink. I like to be clear-minded and civil. I’ve seen how idiotic my parents are when they drink and I don’t want to be like that. Period.

JLeslie's avatar

@BBawlight Just beware I know many children like you, who never wanted to be like their parents, who wound up being treated for alcoholism themselves.

Talking to them won’t help much then. The alcohol is one of their best friends, and they don’t want to lose it. If they stop drinking it will be an extremely difficult process for them and they aren’t ready to do it now I guess. They will probably get worse, until they finally hit rock bottom. You are going to need to unfortunately kind of grow up fast and be independent and responsible at a young age. Focus on doing well at school, having friends who are good people (being in with the wrong crowd really is a bad thing that can get you in trouble) and in a couple years really start thinking about how you are going to get out. Where you want to go to college or a vocational school that suits you, that sort of thing. When you are a little older, maybe consider getting a job, probably work permits require you to be 16, although I was able to work at 14, so you can save up some money and I think it will make you feel good to not be in the house all the time.

Even if you don’t talk to a teacher or guidance counselor about your situation, you can utilize them to help you in school and discovering your interests. They can help guide you on different electives you can take in high school and help you with your studies, and just be adults that are around if you are confused about anything. Or, the mom of a friend sometimes can be helpful also. Again, you don’t have to say your parents are alcoholics, you can just talk about what might be bothering you in general terms.

Never spite them to get attention, because I am sure at times it feels like they are not really there for you. Doing risky things to spite them is still letting them control you and your happiness.

Sorry this is happening to you. If you can find an al anon chat room or a meeting you will see you are not alone. Even people who don’t have alcoholic parents sometimes have very dysfunctional families and becoming independent and figuring out what you want your life to be as an adult is a way to maintain focus and not get too sucked in by family drama. You are only 14 so I don’t expect you to have all that locked down, but I think it will make more sense to you as you move into your late teens and twenties.

BBawlight's avatar

@JLeslie It’s not more about being unlike my parents. I’ve read so many stories about how alcohol and drugs have ruined many people’s lives that I just don’t want to be around that.

It’s hard to deal with it, but I suppose I have to. I mean, there’s nothing I can do to help, no matter how hard I try. I don’t think I could do that to them, hanging in the wrong crowd, acting out, doing drugs… I’ve read about that as well. I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with my life for a while now, but nothing is set into stone yet.

It just seems like you have me all wrong. I mean, all of the things you told me not to do sound completely unappealing to me and always have.

What’s strange is that when I was younger, I thought that my family was normal. We had no problems like so many other families do and it was just fine. Then somewhere along the line, I saw what’s really happening to us and it hurts. It’s almost like regular families don’t exist in this world, but I’m sure they do somewhere.

JLeslie's avatar

@BBawlight I am not assuming anything about you. I absolutely believe what you write here, I don’t question any of it. I am just communicating to you things I have seen other people do who had alcoholic parents that have put them down a difficult path. I know children of alcoholics who also never drank or did anything risky. You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders.

BBawlight's avatar

@JLeslie Hope I didn’t offend you by what I said, and I’m glad that you don’t just assume anything about me (you know that they say about assuming, right?)

I understand what you mean and I’m glad you’re telling me this, even though I already know it :)

mattbrowne's avatar

Print out an article about the severe dangers of alcoholism and leave it some table in the house.

JLeslie's avatar

@BBawlight Not offended at all. It’s difficult to communicate online, intentions and meaning get misunderstood all the time. I’m glad we sorted it out rather than you just assuming I was assuming something about you. :)

BBawlight's avatar

@JLeslie Yeah, that happens to me all the time. I don’t like to assume, but sometimes it’s necessary. I’m glad we sorted it out as well.

@mattbrowne I don’t think that would work, since they don’t think that they’re alcoholics, so they won’t pay much attention to it.

mattbrowne's avatar

@BBawlight – Then print two articles, how to recognize alcoholism and one about the dangers.

I once read about a German physician who came up with a simple test to find out whether a person is an alcoholic or not. In German it’s called the 3-F test and it translates like this:

1) Boss threatened to fire
2) Spouse threatened to divorce
3) Drivers license gone because of drunk driving

BBawlight's avatar

@mattbrowne They aren’t losing their jobs or drinking and driving or anything. They’re just drinking a lot and arguing a lot.
Like lots of others have said, they get very hostile when confronted. And they might get angry at me.
Even if they don’t “alcoholism is a disease of denial”. Even if they read the articles, they are not very likely to see how it applies to them.

mattbrowne's avatar

@BBawlight – Then I fear it will first have to get worse before there’s a chance for the situation to improve.

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