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How to get a parent to stop drinking

The advice within this blog is for adult children whose parents are struggling to give up drinking alcohol. If you are worrying about how to get a parent to stop drinking, please visit this blog for the right advice and information for you.

If your parent is drinking excessively, it is likely that you are dealing with a lot of stress and emotions as a result. It can be incredibly difficult to see someone that you are so close to become addicted to alcohol, and dealing with the repercussions of it can be devastating.

Within this blog on how to get a parent to stop drinking, we will look at what you should be doing to keep yourself well at this time. We will also look at the steps that you can take to help your parent recognise the impact of their alcohol abuse and start their journey to recovery.   

Important first steps when thinking about how to get a parent to stop drinking

Take the time to look after yourself

It is understandable for you to be thinking about how to get your parent to stop drinking. Their alcohol use is probably something that you find yourself worrying about a lot of the time.

But, it is so important that you focus on looking after yourself too. It isn’t selfish; it’s necessary for you to maintain your own physical and emotional health. Remember that this is not your fault. We understand that blaming yourself and forgetting about your own needs can be very easy to do, but you are not the reason for their drinking, so don’t punish yourself.

Get a good amount of sleep, eat healthily, try to exercise regularly and catch up with important people in your life. It’s important to stay away from unhealthy coping strategies too, which is why you should continue with your usual daily routine.

Don’t try and deal with everything alone

You may feel embarrassed or ashamed of your parent’s drinking, or you may be starting to forsake your own social activities to look after them. But, bottling up your feelings and attempting to deal with it alone isn’t the solution. You can’t be expected to cope with this difficult situation by yourself.

Get into the habit of regularly speaking to people about how you’re feeling and what you are dealing with. It may not be easy, but it is incredibly worthwhile.

Talk to a close friend or someone you trust, whether that is a therapist, doctor, teacher or relative. Sharing how you feel about your parent’s drinking can be a great relief. They may even be able to offer help and support on how to get a parent to stop drinking too.

Also, find your local Al-Anon or Alateen meetings. This will give you an opportunity to meet with other people who are going through something similar to you, either online or in person, who you can talk to and who can support you.

How to talk to your parent when you want them to stop drinking

When thinking about how to get a parent to stop drinking, you may want to consider having a conversation with them about their alcohol use. Understanding how and when to have this discussion can be difficult. Below, we have put together some advice so that you can have a successful chat with them:

  • Try to catch your parent in a moment when they are not drinking or drunk. That way, they are more likely to listen to you and acknowledge that they have a problem
  • Try to use a calm and gentle tone. You may feel angry and upset – and understandably so – but this conversation wouldn’t be the right time to express it
  • Try to start out with a one-to-one conversation rather than an intervention, which could be extremely stressful for your parent and cause them to shut off or become defensive
  • Don’t use this time to try and convince them that they have a problem. Instead use the conversation to discuss the impact that their behaviour is having on you and those closest to you both. Use phrases like “I feel that” or “I have noticed” rather than “You have been” or “You keep doing” to avoid being confrontational, which could cause your parent to react badly
  • Let them know that you are having this conversation because you love them. You want to see them get better and are willing to support them as they stop drinking
  • Give them space to talk in the conversation by asking them questions

If your parent becomes angry, defensive or silent, don’t try to pursue the conversation. Instead, walk away and try again at another time when they are more receptive.

Setting boundaries when you want to get a parent to stop drinking

It can feel strange to set boundaries with your parent, especially as you are the ‘child’ in the relationship.  But when thinking on how to get a parent to stop drinking, it is important to set rules around acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and communicate these to your parent and the rest of the family. It’s also important to outline the repercussions for any rules being broken, which may include leaving the situation or calling on the support of a friend or the emergency services.

Types of rules to think about include:

  • Don’t drink or appear drunk in the home
  • Don’t turn up for family events drunk or late
  • Don’t request that others buy alcohol for you, lend you money or take you to buy alcohol
  • Don’t request that others phone in sick to your work on your behalf
  • Don’t take part in illegal activity caused by drinking

By setting clear boundaries, you can protect yourself from any situations caused by your parent’s drinking which are currently harming your health and wellbeing. These boundaries can also give your parent an opportunity to take ownership of their actions and behaviours, and help them to recognise just how bad their drinking has become.  

Talking to your parent about professional addiction treatment programmes

When thinking about how to get a parent to stop drinking, have a look at treatment that is available near to you before you talk to them. Then, maybe print off some brochures, or have them on a screen ready to show your parent if the right moment presents itself.

When talking to your parent about their drinking, they may say that they are ready to get help. If so, let them know that you will be there for them. On the other hand, they may say that they are ok, and don’t need professional treatment. Don’t try to push them on this. Let time pass and speak to them again. And if they still aren’t receptive, you may want to consider an intervention where other family members and friends join together to encourage the person to seek the help that they need. 

Priory Group’s addiction treatment programmes

At our rehabilitation centres across the UK, we provide residential addiction treatment to people dealing with alcohol and substance abuse issues, as well as behavioural addictions like gambling. 

If detoxification is needed, this is undertaken in the first instance. When detoxing, the person will be closely monitored by our team to make sure that they are a safe and comfortable, and that any issues or concerns are addressed right away.

We also offer residential addiction treatment, where a person is given the time and space away from their everyday life to really get to grips with their addiction. Through seminars, workshops, one-to-one therapy, group therapy sessions and individual working time, they can start to really understand their addiction, the impact that it has had on them and those closest to them, and how they can start their path to recovery. Our aftercare programmes – which follow on from a residential stay – then gives a person the chance to come back, meet with their peers and specialists, and receive the support that they need in the early stages of their recovery.

Blog reviewed by Steve Roberts, Lead Therapist at Priory Hospital Woodbourne

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