Get informed : Drugs and addictions

Alcohol
   
Your parent drinks
Parents are not just parents! They’re also human beings. They can also go through difficult situations and emotions that they may have trouble coping with. Some people take refuge in alcohol, thinking it will solve their problems.


IT’S NOT EASY!

If your parent has a problem with alcohol, you may experience all kinds of emotions. You may:
  • Be disappointed
  • Be angry
  • Feel powerless (your parent continues to drink no matter what you say)
  • Be ashamed
  • Be sad
  • Feel alone
  • Be worried (you wonder if your parent will ever stop drinking)
  • Be afraid (if your parent’s behaviour changes when they drink)
  • Feel like you are your parent’s parent
No problem! Your parent may refuse to admit their problem. There are various possible reasons for this: they may be afraid of disappointing you, be afraid of what people will think, or feel incapable of facing their problems without using alcohol.

Side effects. Alcohol influences rational thinking. If your parent is under the effects of alcohol, they may behave in unusual ways. For example, they may:
  • Say bizarre or hurtful things
  • Do crazy things
  • Neglect to take care of you or of important things
  • Become angry very quickly or be more impulsive
  • Not care about anything any more
  • Make promises that are not kept
  • Become unrecognizable to you

“WILL I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM?”

It depends on you! Your tastes, interests, experiences, and goals may be completely different from your parents’. However, if you think that you may be at risk, don’t hesitate to speak to a resource person.


“WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?”

“He has a problem!” A person can only stop drinking if they first admit that they have a problem. This can take some time! Everyone close to the person may already be aware of the problem before the person themself realizes it or is willing to admit it.

“I have a problem.” Perhaps you can talk to your parent about what you’re going through. You can tell them your worries, your feeling of being alone because you’re not listened to, and your disappointment when promises are not kept. Don’t forget that when a person drinks, their perception and behaviour changes. Carefully choose the right moment to speak to your parent — ideally when they haven’t been drinking.

“She won’t help herself!” It happens. Acknowledging the problem is one thing, doing something to get rid of it is another. A person may not be ready to stop drinking, because their body and mind still crave alcohol, their desire to drink is stronger than their will to stop, or they don’t know any other way to cope with their problems.

“He doesn’t love me enough.” It’s not a question of love. The person with the addiction problem must be motivated for them to change. You can’t convince your parent to stop, nor want it more than them. You’re not responsible for someone else’s drinking, or for their motivation. And since you’re not the problem, you can’t expect to be the solution. But it’s completely normal for you to feel powerless in this type of situation.

“It’s as if I’m the parent!” If your parent is addicted to alcohol, they may have difficulty managing time, money, emotions, and maybe even household tasks. In a household, everyone chips in. However, it’s not up to you to do everything! Your role isn’t to take care of your parent, console them, or take care of everything. You’re not the parent!

“What should I do, then?” Don’t try to cope with this situation all by yourself. Can you talk to other adults about it? Who are the adults you can trust? Another family member, a school counsellor, a teacher, or Tel-jeunes?


YOUR SAFETY

If your parent drinks regularly or excessively, you may not always feel safe, because:
  • You often find yourself alone at home or during the night
  • You’re experiencing psychological or physical violence
  • You’re experiencing neglect
  • Your parent takes you to all types of odd places

If you’re afraid or don’t feel safe, it’s important to talk about it. Your safety is important. You can talk about it with an adult you trust, a resource person, or Tel-jeunes. If you feel ready, you can also call the Director of Youth Protection (DYP).
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