Alcoholism is often referred to as a ‘family disease’. This is because an alcohol addiction harms more than just the individual who is addicted, it affects everyone who has to live with that individual. Children who share a house with an alcoholic parent suffer the effects of the alcoholism. They may not understand why their parent is behaving the way they do, or why they are addicted to alcohol.
Children of alcoholic parents, whether they are young or adult may want to help the parent. However, they have to realize that the alcoholism is their parent’s problem, not theirs. And as much as they want to help, perhaps they can’t. The parent must want to get help. But that doesn’t mean that the children should continue living in a status quo. There are ways to deal with an alcoholic parent.
Ensuring Own Safety
A child living with an addicted individual who is abusive, be it physically, mentally or emotionally must first think of their own safety. It is recommended that they find another trusted adult to talk to, who can get them into a safer environment. This can be a scary prospect, because it might mean having to leave home, or the parent getting angry. But being in a safe environment where the child doesn’t have to be afraid of abuse is paramount. Speaking to teachers or counselors is a good step.
Confiding in Someone
There may not always be a trusted adult around the child, that can be confided in. If that is the case, the child should find a local Alcoholics Anonymous or AlaTeen meeting. Both of these programs are anonymous and also aim to help the families of individuals who are alcoholics.
Read About It
There are plenty of books written about the experience of growing up with a parent addicted to alcohol. These books provide tips, tools and resources for coping. The local library will have a section on self-help or recovery and starting there will at least let the child know that they are not alone as well as sharing some of the tools others have used in their own process of coping.
Practicing Self Care
As the child of an alcoholic, the person may be wrapped in caring for their parent and it can be easy to neglect one’s own self. An alcoholic parent is not someone who will take good care of their child, because they are consumed with the addiction. So the child must do take care of themselves. This is not just important when the child is young but also for adult children.
It is important that the children of alcoholics remember that they are not the cause of their parent’s drinking. Nor can they control their parent. It is not for the child cure their parent’s disease of alcoholism.
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