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Helping An Alcoholic Parent

by Landmark Recovery

July 7, 2020
A daughter smiling because her mother got treatment for her alcoholism


Addiction is a difficult subject to tackle with your loved ones, and especially so with your parents. Perhaps you feel that as their child, you shouldn’t meddle in their personal choices, but you might feel at your wit’s end and unable to cope. It is heartbreaking to watch an alcoholic parent’s health and mental state deteriorate as alcoholism takes its toll.


Identifying Alcoholism

A young adult looking up signs of an alcoholic parent

Alcoholism isn’t always easy to spot. Many individuals manage to maintain jobs, relationships, and active lives to the point where, on the surface, they seem fine – at least, most of the time.


When you know them well, when you live under the same roof, it can be quite different. You see a side of their behavior that isn’t always evident to others. Even if you’ve dealt with it all your life, you will sometimes question yourself as to whether your feelings are valid.


Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you identify alcoholic behaviors in a parent. Do they:


  • Choose alcohol over participating in family activities?
  • Miss work or daily activities because of hangovers or drinking?
  • Have an unusually high tolerance for alcohol?
  • Drink at unusual times?
  • Become defensive or angry when questioned or criticized about their drinking?
  • Engage in risky or dangerous behavior?
  • Express guilt or shame about their drinking?
  • Hide or lie about their drinking habits?
  • Exhibit out of control behavior when they drink?
  • Are they unable to stop drinking when intoxicated?


Physical symptoms to help you identify an alcoholic parent may include bloodshot eyes, reddened complexion or spider veins, slurred speech, digestive issues, and loss of muscle tone. Alcohol can also affect their mental state, manifesting as depression, anxiety, memory loss, fatigue, and affected cognitive function.


Addressing the Issue

Broaching the topic won’t be the easiest thing you’ve ever done. It’s an uncomfortable conversation that can lead to an even worse situation if not handled well. How can you walk that fine line of encouraging your parent to enter treatment without turning the conversation angry and adversarial?


Staging an intervention is a delicate business. You want to encourage your loved one to seek help, but it’s important to realize that they can only change when they are ready to do so. Let them know that you are concerned, and that you are there to support them.


Their willingness to begin the journey doesn’t mean they won’t experience setbacks, but it does mean they’re willing to make an effort.


Helpful Resources

Treatment centers, addiction professionals, support groups, doctors, and Alcoholics Anonymous are all excellent resources, as are psychiatrists who specialize in alcohol abuse disorders. Most importantly, recovery requires the love, support, and understanding of family as it might be a long road to recovery.


Recovery is a lot of work, and they can’t do it alone. They need to know that you are supporting them through success and failure.


If you have any concerns about helping your alcoholic parent, don’t go it alone. Call us today at 888-448-0302, or fill out our contact form to request more information on our recovery programs.


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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.