Does My Parent Have A Drinking Problem?

Alcohol use disorders, more commonly known as alcoholism, affect approximately 17.6 million Americans. Alcohol is by far the most commonly abused substance in the United States. Alcoholism can severely and negatively impact an individual’s personal, professional, social, and financial life. Unfortunately, alcoholism doesn’t just impact the alcoholic. It can also cause crippling effects on the alcoholic’s loved ones, especially their children.

Alcoholism can lead to emotional, physical, mental, and financial abuse and neglect of children of all ages. This is especially true of children who still live with or near their alcoholic parent. Alcoholism can also cause a parent to act in ways that are extremely embarrassing, or even humiliating, to their children and themselves.

Even when alcoholism doesn’t lead to severe harm or distress it often leaves children feeling unloved,uncared for, and unimportant. Many children of alcoholics struggle with self-esteem issues as well as issues with the alcoholic parent. It isn’t fair that children have to take on the role of an adult in the family, which can lead to bitterness and resentment. What causes the most stress for many children of alcoholics is the constant fear and worry. They may have thoughts like “Is my parent going to come home safe? What kind of mood are they going to be in? Are they ever going to find help?”

One of the most common issues that children of alcoholics struggle with is blaming themselves or thinking that they could be doing more for their parent. This is especially true when the alcoholic drunkenly (and falsely) blames that child to their face. The guilt can be overwhelming for some. This is both incredibly untrue and unfair. No one is responsible for someone else’s drinking problem.

Some children have dealt with their parent’s alcoholism since the time they were born. Others may not notice it until many years later, perhaps when their parent developed the condition. Many individuals don’t become alcoholics until later in life; in fact, alcohol abuse is a growing problem among senior citizens. Luckily no matter how old an alcoholic is, or how long they have had a drinking problem, help is out there.

Signs Of An Alcoholic Parent

Alcohol and alcohol addiction impact everyone differently. Some alcoholics exhibit many signs, while others exhibit very few (this is especially true of high-functioning alcoholics). But some signs are common to many, if not most, alcoholics. Here are some of the most common.

Blackouts and memory loss
Irritability and mood swings
Excusing drinking and bad behavior
Prioritizing drinking over other obligations
Isolation from friends and family members
Increasing difficulties at work or with finances
Drinking alone or secretly

How Do I Approach My Alcoholic Parent About Their Problem?

You cannot force someone to change. You cannot make them quit drinking or even drink less. You cannot make them go to rehab. You can’t even make them see that they have a problem. The best thing you can do is to bring to their attention to the fact that you think they have a problem.

If you are concerned that your parent may have a problem with alcoholism, you might be terrified to bring it up to them. You might fear them getting angry, yelling at you, or getting violent. You may feel they will make a scene in front of others, embarrass you, move out, or either use more or more secretly. These are all things that have happened to others, but they don’t have to happen to you. Included below are a list of guidelines that may help you improve the outcome of any conversation with your parent. Remember that, unless violence is a concern, the risks of having this conversation are generally far outweighed by the potential benefits. If you are genuinely concerned about a violent reaction, however, it is best to not have the conversation alone. Always have someone with you.

Remember that the point of the conversation is not to convince them that they have a problem but to let them know that you are concerned that they might.
Don’t initiate the conversation when your parent is intoxicated.
Don’t initiate the conversation when you are intoxicated.
Unless violence is an issue, establish a time to have the conversation one-on-one.
Start the conversation by saying that you’re doing it because you care about them.
Continually emphasize that you’re having this conversation because you’re concerned about their well-being.
Always come from the perspective of yourself, not a general perspective. “I am concerned by how much you are drinking. I have noticed that your behavior has been different. I think you are putting yourself at risk.”
List behaviors and incidents that you’ve observed and why they concern you. If you feel it may benefit the conversation, discuss how their behaviors have impacted you and how that has hurt you.
Make sure the discussion is a two-way conversation so that they don’t feel cornered or get defensive. A good way to do this is to ask open-ended questions.
Keep on the main point. Don’t get sidetracked with speculation, judgment, or an explanation for why.
If the person denies there is a problem, try to get them to agree to have another conversation in the future.

Looking for a place to start?

Reach out to a treatment provider for free today.

What Do I Do If My Alcoholic Parent Refuses Help?

Unfortunately there aren’t many options available to you for your parent if they refuse help. If you are underage and your parent’s alcoholism is causing them to physically abuse or neglect you, then you can (and probably should) report them to a family member or school or law enforcement official. You can turn to friends and family of your parent as well to see if you can get them to help convince your parent to seek help. You can also seek out the services of a professional interventionist, medical professional, clergyperson, or other professional to help your parent see the light.

Find a treatment provider to discuss treatment options for your parent.

There are, however, many options that you can take for yourself. Just because your parent is refusing or unable to change does not mean that you cannot dramatically improve your own life, emotional wellbeing, and physical health. There are many resources and support groups out there that specialize in helping the children and other family members of alcoholics. These resources and support groups can provide you with a great deal of help for yourself, including emotional support, college scholarships, help getting over grief, and tips to getting through daily life.

What Resources Are Available To Me?


Al-Anon is the largest and most well-known support group for families of alcoholics. Modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon includes a 12-Step program for members to follow to help them cope with their family member’s alcoholism. Al-Anon holds regular meetings in all 50 states and in many countries around the world.


SMART Recovery is one of the leading alternatives to AA and is especially popular with alcoholics that have issues with AA’s spiritual focus. While SMART recovery is focused on alcoholics, the organization also has resources for friends and family as well.


Co-Dependents Anonymous is a support group that is dedicated to helping those who struggle with co-dependent relationships, both those that have been impacted by alcohol and drug use and those who have not. Co-DA is a 12-step group where members support each other as they try to not only survive but thrive.


Schools of all levels, from elementary schools to universities, have numerous resources available to help students cope with the substance abuse of their parents.

Mental Health Professionals

It may be beneficial for you to seek help from a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker. They may be able to help you understand, cope with your feelings about, and improve your mental state over your parent’s situation and the impacts that it has had on you.

The Internet

There are hundreds of websites and organizations with websites on the Internet that are dedicated to helping the families of alcoholics. While some are significantly more helpful than others, many will be able to provide information, resources, and even communities of members who can provide a great deal of support.

Get Help Now

If your parent is struggling with alcoholism or other substance abuse issues, help is out there. Contact a treatment provider today to find a rehab facility.

What Is End Stage Alcoholism?

End stage alcoholism is the final stage of alcoholism. This stage is the most destructive. Typically, an individual reaches end stage alcoholism after years of alcohol abuse. At this point, people who have spent years drinking may have developed numerous health and mental conditions in addition to their alcohol abuse. The individual may have isolated themselves, lost their job, or damaged major organs in the body. Another consequence is the risk to their overall health as the organs shut down.

What Are the Stages of Alcoholism?

Alcohol abuse has many stages. The stages of alcohol abuse are broken down into 6 categories. These are:

Social Drinking

The first stage is social drinking. This is a comparatively non-threatening level of drinking, which may not always lead to alcohol abuse. This is generally consuming a few drinks when out with friends.

Binge Drinking

The second stage is binge drinking. Binge drinking is a common practice affecting 1 in 6 American adults, resulting in the consumption of 17 billion drinks each year. Binge drinking can be temporary, or occur often, signaling the threat of future heavy drinking or alcohol abuse.

Heavy Drinking

The third stage is heavy drinking. At this stage, the person has taken too much of a liking to alcohol. They may drink more frequently, each day, or drink excessive amounts when drinking socially. Having more than 5 drinks in 2 hours is commonplace (and problematic).

Alcohol Dependency

The fourth stage is alcohol dependency. At this point, the drinker depends on alcohol to feel “normal” and may experience negative symptoms or feelings when they are not drinking. This dependency may have underlying emotional and mental motivations.


The fifth stage is addiction to alcohol or alcoholism. When a person has become an alcoholic, they begin to exhibit a variety of behaviors that have a negative impact on their health and personal and professional lives. For example, alcoholics will continue to drink despite it causing them negative consequences.

End Stage Alcoholism

Lastly, the final stage, known as the end-stage of alcohol abuse is the point where the alcoholic is experiencing very serious health and mental issues, and could possibly be in danger of death.

End Stage Alcoholism and Health Complications

End stage alcoholism typically presents a number of health complications. First, the liver becomes damaged, and possibly permanently. The liver gains fats and inflammation, eventually leading to liver scarring. The result of the liver damage is often liver disease or cirrhosis.

The damaged liver can cause other complications in the body since it is a vital organ. The liver is responsible for over 500 tasks to ensure the body is functioning as healthy as possible. Other health complications like heart problems and stroke stem from chronic alcohol abuse in end stage alcoholism. Risks of dementia and cancer increase. Even brain damage and hepatitis can occur in end stage alcoholics.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and End Stage Alcoholism

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), also called alcohol dementia, occurs most frequently in end stage alcoholism. With this syndrome, there is a shortage of vitamin B-1, which manifests as dementia-like traits. Also called Wernicke Encephalopathy, this condition produces leg tremors, staggering, vision changes, and problems maintaining balance. Lastly, people are often confused and have problems staying sharp or learning new things. Drooping lids, hallucinations, and double vision are also symptoms associated with this condition.

Looking for a place to start?

Reach out to a treatment provider for free today.

Early Signs of Liver Disease From Alcoholism

In the end-stages of alcoholism, there are noticeable health conditions like jaundice from liver failure that can get the attention of the individual suffering. There are also more subtle signs like itchy skin, fluid retention, fatigue, and bleeding that signal another problem. If you know someone who drinks regularly and has these symptoms, consider calling a treatment provider to discuss treatment options.

Am I in Danger of Alcoholism?

Alcoholism varies greatly from binge drinking and heavy drinking, with more serious effects. Sadly, many people use alcohol to heal trauma, give them courage in areas where they are insecure, or combine them with other drugs. These unhealthy ways of coping and reckless drug use will only complicate and worsen an alcohol use disorder.

If someone has increased their drinking significantly, there could be a problem. Heavy drinking is a threatening practice which can easily transition into alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. If you or a loved one denies they have a problem with alcohol abuse, or cannot stop or cut back on their drinking, they may be in danger of alcoholism.

Find Help Today

If you or a family member or friend suffers from end stage alcoholism, there is hope for recovery. Future patients can gain knowledge on different facilities and discover what treatment options are available. Please contact a treatment provider today.

The 5 Types of Alcoholics

There is a stereotype in America of a “typical alcoholic.” However, a study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Institute of Health (NIH), and the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) put that notion to rest. These organizations conducted a national, clinical study derived from various studies on alcoholics. The study found that there are five subtypes of alcoholics:

Young Adult Subtype
Functional Subtype
Intermediate Familial Subtype
Young Antisocial Subtype
Chronic Severe Subtype.

These subtypes are categories based off the age of the individual, the age they started drinking, the age they developed an alcohol dependence, their family history of alcoholism, the presence or absence of co-occurring mental health conditions, and the presence of absence of other substance abuse disorders. They are not meant as a diagnostic to determine if someone is suffering from alcoholism. Rather, they are meant to further the study of alcoholism and guide future research and prevention efforts.

Different types of alcoholics will suffer for different reasons. Some groups may not even realize that their drinking is a problem. Rather, it is just a part of who they are. However, no matter your age, status, or family, alcoholism can create long-term problems that damage your health and relationships, no matter the subtype.

Young Adult Subtype

It is determined that roughly 31.5% of alcoholics fall into the category of young adults, which is the largest single group. This group tends to begin drinking at an early age (around 19) and also develops an alcohol dependence early (around 24). This group has comparatively low rates of co-occurring mental health conditions, and moderate rates of other substance abuse disorders and family members with alcoholism.

The young adult subtype is less likely to have a full-time job, but is more likely to be in college than other groups. This group is also unlikely to ever have been married. This subtype drinks less frequently than others, but is very likely to engage in binge drinking when they do. Members of this group are 2.5 times more likely to be male than female. While it is very unlikely that a member of this group will seek out treatment, they are most likely to seek out a 12-Step program if they do.


Functional Subtype

The Functional subtype is what you might think of when you hear “functional alcoholics.” Making up 19.5% of alcoholics, this is the group that are holding down jobs and relationships. This group tends to be middle aged (around 41). Members of this group generally start drinking later (around 18) and develop an alcohol dependence later (around 37). This group suffers from moderate rates of depression, but lower rates of most other co-occurring disorders. Many members of this group smoke cigarettes, but few have other substance use disorders. Around 60% of this group are male.

Of all subtypes, the functional subtype is the least likely to have legal problems, and they are the least likely to report problems due to their drinking. They have the highest education levels and income of all types of alcoholics. Half of this group are married. These are people that may seem to have their lives together, the ones that others look up to. However, while they are “functional” in a sense, they are still suffering from addiction. Less than 20% of this subgroup has sought help, and most do so from a 12-Step program or a private health care professional.

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Intermediate Familial Subtype

The intermediate familial subtype accounts for 18.8% of alcoholics. This group tends to start drinking younger (around 17) and also develops an alcohol dependence earlier (around 32). This subgroup is very likely to have had immediate family members with alcoholism. They also have high probability of suffering from anti-social personality disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder. This group also suffers from high rates of cigarette, marijuana, and cocaine addiction.

The intermediate familial subtype is 64% male. This group has a higher education level than most, but not as high as the functional subtype. More members of this group have full-time jobs than any other, but their income level tends to be lower than the functional subtype. While this group is not especially likely to seek treatment, those that do tend to attend self-help groups, specialty treatment programs, detoxification programs, and private health care providers.

Young Antisocial Subtype

21.1% of alcoholics fall into the young antisocial subtype. This group tends to start drinking at the youngest age (around 15) and also develops an alcohol dependence at the earliest age (around 18). More than 50% of this group have traits of anti-social personality disorder. They also have high rates of depression, bipolar disorder, social phobia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. This group also has the highest rates of other substance abuse disorders, including addiction to cigarettes, marijuana, meth, cocaine, and opioids. More than 3/4 of the members of this group are male.

This group has the lowest levels of education, employment and income of any group. This group also drinks more at one time and more overall than other group, although they drink slightly less frequently than the . On the other hand, this group is more likely to seek help than almost any other, with 35% having sought out some form of assistance in overcoming alcoholism. This group has the highest rate of seeking treatment from a private health care provider, but also often choose self-help groups, specialty treatment programs, and detox programs.

Chronic Severe Subtype

The chronic severe subtype makes up the smallest percentage of alcoholics, with only 9.2%. This group tends to start drinking at a young age (around 15) but typically develops an alcohol dependence at an intermediate age (around 29). 77% of this group have close family members with alcoholism, the highest percentage of any subtype. 47% of the members of this group exhibit anti-social personality disorder, the second highest rate of any subtype. This subtype is the most likely of any to experience major depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and panic disorder. This group also is very likely to experience addiction to cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine, and opioids.

More than 80% of this group experiences acute alcohol withdrawal and persistent efforts to cut down, and more than 90% experience drinking despite the problems it causes them and drinking larger amounts and for longer than intended. This group also tends to spend significant amount of time recovering from alcohol and many experience reduced activities due to drinking. This group also sees the highest rate of emergency room visits due to drinking.

There Is Help Available for All Types of Alcoholics

If you or someone you love fall into one of these categories, do not hesitate. The longer an addiction goes on for, the harder it is break. Contact a dedicated treatment provider. They are available around the clock to help discuss treatment program options.