My Teen Son Is an Alcoholic. How Can I Help Him?
If you are living at home with a teen who has become an alcoholic, you have many options for helping your child. Until they are 18, you have guardianship powers and can make many medical decisions for your child, and hospitals will recognize your decisions as long as they are made with good intentions.
There are a number of things you can try to help your teen with alcohol misuse. You can:
- Talk to your child about the damage they are doing to their body. The last thing most kids want is to end up disabled or disfigured due to drug or alcohol use. Alcohol can damage your body, including your looks, so sometimes discussing the problem can be a good way to help your child stop drinking. If you fear that the problem is more serious than a mild problem, try talking to your child and determining if he or she will try to stop. If your teen is under 18 and is unwilling to listen to you, you do have the right to seek help for them.
- Ask one of your child’s friends to talk to him or her about the problem if they won’t listen to you. Sometimes it is easier to accept that you have a problem if your friends tell you instead of your parents. Teens sometimes feel a lot of pressure from peers to drink, so a good influence can often make a big difference.
- Seek an alcohol intervention with a professional intervention service or the school your teen attends. If your teen is 18, they are legally an adult, but you can still request an intervention. Teachers, peers, and counselors are usually more than helpful in these situations, and they will be willing to help get your teen the help they need to get back to a normal school and home life.
- Take your child to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. If your child is under 18, you can rightfully check them into rehab, with or without their permission. You may want to wait until your child accepts the fact that they have a problem, but if they are already out of control, you can do what is necessary as a parent to make sure your teen gets help.
- Take your child to a medical provider who can discuss your addiction treatment options and make your teen aware of the problem without seeming critical or judgmental. A medical provider will not be biased and will have the knowledge to discuss your child’s options. Your teen might be worried about missing school, not seeing friends, or being judged by others at an alcohol treatment clinic. Talking with a doctor may alleviate some or all of these fears and, if your teen wants help, the doctor can present options and refer you to a service you can all agree on. Working with a medical provider will also put your teen in charge of their own health. When a child feels out of control, this can be something they will appreciate.
- Eliminate alcohol in your home. This is one of the major issues that parents tend to overlook. If you have alcohol in your home that is causing a problem, get rid of it. You may be able to control your drinking habits, but your child is at a stage where they cannot. To avoid temptation, remove alcohol from the home—don’t just lock it up. Limited availability will make the substance harder to get and, when your child is unable to get the alcohol, their drinking may stop.
- Set a good example. If you or others in your family drink heavily, now may be the time to quit. If you and your child can participate in a program together, this may help your child realize that they are not alone in seeking help. When you partner with your child to seek healthier life choices, it sets a good example and allows both of you to have a cheerleader in your corner that will help you stop drinking excessively. In the end, you’ll both be healthier and have a stronger parent-child bond.
No matter how bad things are now, you have plenty of choices that can lead to a better path. Take the first step and talk to your child and you will be able to better understand what to do from there. If you’ve determined that it’s time for inpatient residential treatment and you want to research your options, call American Addiction Centers’ (AAC’s) 24/7 hotline toll-free at . You can also check your insurance coverage using the form below to determine whether your health insurance provider will cover rehab.
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