Supporting An Adult Child Through Their Struggle with Alcohol Dependence

man with whiskey glass sitting and looking depressed

As a parent, your utmost concern is your adult child’s well-being, especially when they are grappling with alcohol addiction. Navigating this challenging situation is far from straightforward, and life has become more complex. Despite the enduring love you have for your child, it’s crucial to recognize that once they turn 18, they are legally considered adults.

Feelings of Powerlessness

Observing your adult child, whether at 18, 28, or 48, succumb to alcoholism or addiction is truly heart-wrenching. This experience can be one of the most daunting trials, casting a heavier emotional burden than anything you’ve encountered before.

As your child matures into an adult, your ability to control their actions diminishes, but your parental instincts and concerns remain intact. A sense of helplessness and despair often creeps in, but there are steps you can take to provide support and emphasize the importance of seeking treatment.

Educate Yourself about Substance Use Disorder and Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a genuine medical condition. If your child were afflicted with a physical illness like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, you would naturally strive to learn everything possible about the ailment. Equally, educating yourself about alcohol and its impact on the brain can empower you to better assist your child during this trying phase.

Acknowledge Your Child’s Adulthood

Coming to terms with the fact that your child is now an adult with autonomy and accountability is vital. While you lack the authority you had when they were younger, your feelings of care and responsibility persist. It’s crucial to understand that your child’s decisions are their own, and they can’t hold you responsible for their predicament. They have the prerogative to make choices, even if they prove harmful.

Is your child opting for drinking over rehabilitation?

Remember, it’s their decision. Their choice doesn’t arise from your past parenting actions or inactions.

Accepting responsibility for the right course of action lies with them, despite any attempts to attribute blame to you. By assuming blame, parents inadvertently divert ownership of the issue from the child, causing them to attribute their drinking problem to an external factor.

Distinguish between Assistance and Enabling

Differentiating between assistance and enabling is a critical skill. Often, when trying to aid someone struggling with alcoholism, inadvertently enabling them can occur.

Enabling entails performing tasks for an individual that they should and could manage themselves. On the other hand, helping involves aiding them with tasks they genuinely can’t accomplish on their own. Enabling inadvertently fosters an environment where unacceptable behaviors persist.

Loving your child doesn’t equate to enabling their destructive habits. Holding them accountable for their conduct is essential. Don’t empower them to wreak havoc on the family unit.

Exercise Caution with Financial Support

Cease providing monetary assistance to your adult child, irrespective of their stated needs. If possible, extend aid and financial backing only in ways that lead them toward a more constructive life.

Avoid furnishing funds that might perpetuate their destructive behavior. If they claim to require money for sustenance, consider purchasing groceries for them instead, ensuring that your support is beneficial.

By limiting financial aid, you permit them to face the natural consequences of their actions, potentially catalyzing a change in behavior.

Offer Treatment Options

Familiarize yourself with available resources for your child. Be ready to provide accurate information and answer queries. Assist your adult child in locating support groups, rehabilitation programs, or other relevant services. However, if your son or daughter declines these options, don’t internalize their choices or blame yourself. Remember, you can’t aid someone who doesn’t seek self-help.

While your child is now an adult making their choices, they still need your presence. Reassure them that they’re not alone and that you’re cognizant of their struggles. Let them know that support is available, but the initiative to seek assistance must come from within.

Additional Suggestions

Draw a distinction between your child and their addiction. Your child isn’t defined by the addiction, and the addiction isn’t your child. It’s possible to love your child while disliking their alcohol dependency. Display concern, compassion, and impartiality. Communicate to your child the impact of their actions on you. Maintain realistic expectations. Prioritize the safety and well-being of yourself and your family. Practice self-care, establish boundaries, acknowledge your limitations, and prioritize your own health.

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