How to Talk to a Parent Who Had a Drinking Problem
Alcoholism a Misunderstood Disease
Alcoholism is one of the most frequently misunderstood diseases. People who are addicted to alcohol feel powerless and out of control when it comes to managing their alcohol intake. They will continue drinking even when they know their behavior is having a negative impact. Even after the alcoholic has gotten treatment, it can take years for personal relationships to recover. If you are the child of a parent who had a drinking problem, keep in mind that patience is the key to rebuilding a sense of family unity. Change won't occur overnight, but it is possible.
Make sure you have accurate information. Recovering from alcoholism is a long and difficult journey that can be hard to understand if you've never had a drinking problem yourself. If you are trying to talk to a parent who had a drinking problem, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics of his treatment. Most residential treatment programs have resources to educate family members about the recovery process and there are a number of Web sites that explain how Alcoholics Anonymous works.
Get support for yourself. Although treatment programs for recovering alcoholics get the majority of media attention, it's important to realize there are resources available for friends and family members of alcoholics as well. Al-Anon and Alateen are two of the best known support groups, but there are also many online forums for people who don't feel comfortable attending an in-person meeting.
Let go of the past. Alcoholics can be hard to live with, so it's likely your parent has caused you a great deal of hurt during your childhood. However, in order to move forward with the relationship, you'll need to be able to let go of this past anger and resentment. Finding a creative outlet to express your feelings, such as writing in a journal, is often useful in this process.
Ask about a family history of alcoholism. It's not something you should bring up in the early stages of recovery, but you will want to ask your parent about a family history of alcoholism at some point. This is information that can help you make informed choices about your own drinking and become more aware of potential problems that could someday affect your children.