Research suggests that about 1 in 10 children lives with a parent who has an alcohol use disorder, and about 1 in 5 adults lived with a person who used alcohol when they were growing up. Parents with an AUD may have difficulty providing children a safe, loving environment, which can lead to long-term emotional and behavioral consequences. If your family is affected by alcohol use, it is important to seek help. While evidence is conflicting, there seem to be some behavioral changes in children, adolescents, and adults who had a parent with alcohol use disorder.

how to help children of alcoholic parents

Al-Anon is a free support group for family members and friends of people with alcoholism. “Any time I thought about quitting, I looked at how my stepfather became a really angry person because he stopped drinking. I don’t blame that for why it took me so long to quit drinking myself, but it certainly didn’t help,” Harkes says. Erin Harkes,a 36-year-old musician and comedian in Albany, NY, has a stepfather and a biological father who were both alcoholics. An alcoholic household can significantly affect a child’s growth and development. Living with an alcoholic can be stressful and traumatizing.

Mental Health Effects on Children (Emotional, Behavioral, Social)

All of these behaviors can make it more difficult to form healthy, satisfying relationships. For example, if you couldn’t depend on your parent to feed you breakfast or take you to school in the morning, you may have become self-reliant early on. As a result, Peifer says you could have difficulty accepting love, nurturing, and care from partners, friends, or others later in life. Below, you’ll find seven potential ways a parent’s AUD can affect you as an adult, along with some guidance on seeking support.

  • First and foremost, children should never bring up a parent’s alcoholism when they’re intoxicated.
  • Because he is a member of a support group that stresses the importance of anonymity at the public level, he does not use his photograph or his real name on this website.
  • AUD is a mental health condition that can prove very difficult to manage and overcome.
  • Bringing up alcoholism when a parent is intoxicated can lead to defensive and potentially violent behavior.
  • Schools of all levels, from elementary schools to universities, have numerous resources available to help students cope with the substance abuse of their parents.
  • Being able to speak up, say how you feel, and show emotion helps you have good relationships in the future.
  • They rely on their parents to meet the majority of their needs.

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.

How To Help Someone You Know Who Drinks Too Much

If a parent is an alcoholic, children should attempt to help them (if possible). That said, children of alcoholic parents can leverage resources like Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) to help their parents how alcoholic parents affect their children with alcohol abuse disorder. Children of alcoholic parents can also turn to their peers and other adults. Getting other parents and adults involved can encourage alcoholic parents to seek treatment.

  • This means you will need to time your intervention, or when you confront them about their alcoholism, wisely.
  • Children who live with alcoholic parents have an increased risk of developing alcoholism.
  • If you take more than the recommended dose, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.
  • Living with a parent who has an alcohol use disorder affects the way kids, and kids-turned-adults, see themselves.
  • There’s a genetic component, and growing up in a household with an alcoholic puts you at risk for many issues.
  • In some cases, these actions might lead to self-loathing and regret.
  • Exposure to alcohol and substance use disorders affects children in their development and throughout their lives.

No one is responsible for someone else’s drinking problem. 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. They may rationalize their behavior, make excuses, hide their drinking, or engage in other secretive or harmful behaviors.

Distracting Yourself from Home Life

Talk therapy one-on-one or group counseling, somatic experiencing, and EMDR are highly effective in addressing the signs of trauma and developing new, healthy coping mechanisms. There are several issues relevant to the effects of trauma on a child in these types of households. The most critical factors include the age of the child, the duration of the trauma during development, and the ability of the child to have support within the family or from an outside source. The emotional and psychological scars that children of parents with AUD can develop can last well into adulthood.

This will increase the chances of a negative confrontation and make it less likely they will seek help, therefore making it more difficult in dealing with an alcoholic parent. Instead, choose a quiet moment when you can sit down with them together and express your concerns about their drinking. According to the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), family intervention is often the turning point for many alcoholics, as they are provided with the motivation to seek help. Alcoholism is a disease, which produces symptoms just like any other disease or illness.

For example, abuse can cause children to recoil at the sight of their parents. Children with alcoholic parents are more likely to struggle in school. Because parents are not helping a child with school, children can quickly fall behind. When a child falls behind in school their grades fall and they have a higher chance of dropping out. These school issues can also create social problems for children.