The holidays are not exempt from the damage alcoholism can inflict. In fact, this time of year can be more problematic for those who struggle with alcohol abuse due to its very nature. The emphasis on family, friends, coming together, and sharing special moments can be particularly difficult for both those with addiction and their loved ones. While the holidays are a time for togetherness, it can also be a painful reminder of the toll alcoholism can take on families and friends. For those who are dealing with an alcoholic son or daughter, the holidays, like many other days, can be increasingly challenging as time goes on.
Addiction can make a person feel isolated, and this feeling often transcends to those around them. Depictions of happy and harmonious home lives can amplify feelings of stress and fear surrounding one’s own life. Addiction has a way of making people feel as though they are the only ones experiencing it, when in fact, countless people go through similar situations every day. Feelings of anxiety surrounding a son or daughters use of alcohol are normal, and it is okay to be afraid of what the future may hold. Parents may ask themselves, “How can I help my alcoholic son?” “How can I help my alcoholic daughter?” Or maybe, they are not 100% sure that their child is struggling with alcoholism but their drinking is a cause for concern. It places a strain on them and their other family members. Although this mix of emotions is completely natural, it is important to not let it supersede everything else and control your life. There are ways to address these problems in a productive, healthy way.
Protect your Family First, then Find a Way to Help Your Child
While a great deal of time and energy will be spent trying to help your child overcome alcoholism, it is important to not lose sight of other family members who are impacted by it. It is important to protect your family members from the potential consequences of your child’s addiction. Alcoholism can put loved ones at risk for physical or emotional trauma, making it critical to protect your family’s needs.
How to Help Your Alcoholic Son or Daughter & Your Family
To better help your child, there are numerous ways you can minimize exposure to triggers and keep them safe. This can also help protect other family members. Some of these may include:
- Cutting out toxic people: People who make your child feel bad about themselves can lower their self-esteem and make them more likely to relapse. People who take advantage of them, who misuse substances with them, or enable bad behaviors should have all ties cut.
- Stay away from enabling environments: In addition to cutting out enabling peers, it is important to avoid places where substance abuse took place. Being in bars, clubs, or other hangout areas where substance abuse took place can rouse cravings and serve as a trigger.
- Engage in new activities: Finding new hobbies or interests can help minimize the likelihood of crossing paths with enabling people or situations. This will allow them to explore new places, meet new people, and find happiness in new things.
- Consider having them change their number: This is an easy action to take that can help them stay sober. Old friends will have a harder time reaching them. Breaking contact is an important piece of recovery.
- Minimize social media: This can be difficult for teens and young adults, but it is another way they may stay in touch with enabling friends. Encourage them to clean up their list of friends and remove (or even block) people who may pressure them into bad situations.
Choose Empathy Over Enabling
Sometimes, it can be difficult to discern between empathy and enabling. While some actions you may take seem like the right thing to do, it can often enable destructive behaviors and prolong the problem. Situations like your child needing money, potentially losing housing, or being in jail can make it seem like a cut and dry decision. It is often first instinct to help or to bail them out of a bad situation, but this often does not allow someone to realize the consequences of their actions.
Differences Between Helping and Hurting
Empathy and enabling can often go hand-in-hand. Both tend to come from a place of compassion and from a desire to help. The difference, however, is in the outcomes. Enabling allows self-destructive behaviors to continue, which further perpetuates rather than solving the problem. This can come in many forms:
- Giving someone money so they do not steal
- Making excuses for someone’s behavior
- Ignoring unacceptable behavior
- Not expressing how you feel in order to avoid someone becoming upset or leaving
Empathy and encouragement should come in the form of words. Communicate with your child to show them you want to help, but do not engage in behaviors that enable theirs. There is no incentive for change if there is nothing to lose. Protecting them from the potential outcomes of alcoholism can prevent them from seeing the bigger picture and recognizing they need help.
Some ways to stop enabling your alcohol son or daughter may include:
- Buying them food when they are hungry rather than giving them money that can be spent on anything
- Not cleaning up after them – if they make a mess while intoxicated, leave it for them to see
- Continue following through on plans even if your child does not participate
- Taking back autonomy by prioritizing your needs
Begin Looking for a Treatment Center, then Ask the Right Questions
There are so many treatment centers available that it can be overwhelming and difficult to find the right one. Consider your child’s circumstances and unique needs when looking for a treatment center. This may include factors such as:
- Age-specific treatment: Age can play a significant role in the development of addiction and what may need to be addressed in treatment. Choosing an age-specific treatment program can help your child succeed long term.
- Long-term treatment: Studies show that long-term treatment is more successful, especially for young adults, than short-term or outpatient treatment programs.
- Gender-specific therapy: There are inherent, biological differences that cause alcohol abuse to have different effects on men and women. Discussing these topics and other related experiences may be difficult in mixed gender groups.
- Dual-diagnosis: Many who struggle with alcoholism also struggle with a co-occurring mental health disorder. Alcohol is often used as a means of escape and a form of self-medication, which can exacerbate both conditions. A dual-diagnosis treatment center helps treat both the substance abuse and mental health issues like depression or anxiety, simultaneously, giving your child the best change at success.
Questions to Ask Alcohol Treatment Centers
Do not be afraid to reach out to the treatment facility for more information. You can discuss your child’s specific needs to determine if it is the right fit. Some questions that can help you determine if it will work for you and your child include:
- Does the facility accept insurance?
- How much will it cost?
- Where is it located?
- Are detox services available?
- How long does the program last?
- What amenities are offered?
- What is the living situation?
- What is the staff to client ratio?
- How is the treatment program created?
- What is the facility’s treatment philosophy?
With different forms of treatment available, costs will vary as well. While you can pay a high premium for luxury rehab facilities with lavish amenities, these are not required to achieve sobriety. Many treatment facilities work with insurance providers to reduce the cost of rehab, but the overall cost will vary depending on the severity of the addiction and the time needed to recover.
Factors such as the location of the facility, its size, the type of treatment provided, and the type of facility are all factored into costs. Finding the actual costs associated with a treatment program online may be difficult to locate, making it especially important for you to reach out to facilities directly and discuss your options. Many will work with Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, state-funded insurance, or even military coverage to cover the costs of treatment. The amount insurance providers will cover varies depending on the insurer and what the provider accepts. Some even have financing options available to help make the cost of treatment more manageable.
Inpatient treatment can be expensive due to cost of housing, food, round-the-clock supervision, and other amenities. Other options, such as outpatient treatment, can be cheaper because the client participates in therapy sessions, but does not have housing, food, or other amenities covered. There are numerous low-cost and no-cost options available as well. Some facilities have sliding-scale fees based on income so clients can still receive the help they need, and there are numerous no-cost options with support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART Recovery offering free support groups to the community.
When you are ready to make the move, consider using an intervention as a way to reach out to your child. An intervention can help you express your concerns, your desire for them to get help, and provide them with a roadmap to recovery. Interventions are often used as a tool to transition someone into recovery, so it is important to have chosen a treatment program and prepare to transport them as soon as possible following it.
Talk to Someone Who’s Found a Way to Help Their Alcoholic Child
Contacting rehabilitation facilities directly can also put you in touch with others who have been in your shoes. The decision to reach out to a treatment facility can be difficult and stressful, but having the ability to connect with the program and its staff directly can help you feel more confident in the process. Speaking face-to-face with the people who will have a hand in your child’s recovery can alleviate some of the anxiety you may inevitably experience.
In many cases, treatment facilities have resources for family members and loved ones as well, making it easy for you to connect with parents who have been in your shoes. It allows you to better understand the recovery process, some of the obstacles you may face, and develop a stronger support network of peers who can readily relate to your experiences.
If you have the opportunity to do so, visit the treatment facilities you are considering. When visiting treatment facilities, you often have the opportunity to meet the staff, current clients, and even family members. They can provide valuable insight into how the program works and help you determine whether it is the right fit. Even if you are unable to visit the site in person, some treatment facilities’ websites will provide links to video testimonials from former clients and family members, as well as let you become better acquainted with the staff. These resources can help you decide if a treatment program is the right fit for you and your child.
Find Time to Help Yourself While Helping Your Alcoholic Child
While helping your child achieve sobriety is a top priority, it is important not to lose yourself in the process. Addiction affects not only the person with it, but those closest to them. The devouring nature of substance abuse can make it difficult to prioritize yourself as well.
- Find a support group: Treatment programs often have resources available to family members as well. Joining a support group can help you manage your own well-being. These forums allow you to connect with others who relate to your experiences and can provide support or advice in times of struggle.
- Take care of yourself: This can be anything. Find something you love, something that excites you, or helps you relax, and make time for it. It is important not to lose your identity in the process of helping your child rediscover theirs. Make time for hobbies, exploration, and loved ones to help ease your mind.
Contact Sober College Today
With age- and gender-specific long-term treatment plans, Sober College has numerous therapeutic options for those in crisis.
Do you have a child struggling with alcohol abuse?
Call 877.634.7849 today for more infomration about the treatment options available through Sober College.
While taking the first step towards recovery may seem daunting, nothing compares to the relief of knowing your child is somewhere safe receiving the treatment they desperately need. With the right treatment program, your child can begin their journey on the road to recovery, rediscover themselves, and rebuild relationships that have been hurt by substance abuse. Sober College can equip them with the tools and life skills necessary to become a sober, independent adult.