Have You Had a Family Member Struggle with an Addiction to a Substance, Say Alcoholism?
Those nights when the doorbell rang at 1:00 AM, you go to open the door and that family member comes crashing down onto the floor of the house because he was propped up against the door that you just opened. Or maybe you had no clue there was a problem until that family member suddenly disappeared for a month or more.
With recent stats from projectknow.com, 14 million adults in the United States have a problem with alcohol or are alcohol abusers. That is approximately one in every 13 adults in the United States.
There is a good chance that you have been personally affected by an addiction to alcohol of a loved one or have walked with someone else who is struggling. According to Recovery Brands in a 2017 study, more people sought treatment for alcoholism than any other substance.
Alcoholism is not only an issue for the individual, but it also impacts the family in dramatic ways. There are the loving spouse/partner and/or family members/friends, trying to understand what is happening. There is also the possibility of children.
So, how do you address this with children? This can be a tricky task but there is hope with recovery. Here are some tips for addressing this with children, as it can often be a time of confusion for everyone involved.
8 Tips for Addressing Alcoholism
1. Consider Timing
Attempt to reduce distractions and be in a calm environment. Think about when your child is at their best on any given day. This may be in the morning, after a meal or in the evening. This may be the time to consider having such a talk.
2. Keep it Age Appropriate
Depending on the age of your child will depend on how to address these issues. Examples for younger children could include “Johnny, did you notice daddy being extra loud last night” or “Lee, did you see that daddy was being a little mean yesterday” or “Joey, were you worried that mommy went to bed before you did”.
3. Be Honest About the Impact
Remember, keep this age appropriate too. Depending on the age of your child, consider how much you are willing to share.
It’s okay to show your emotions, whether it’s sadness or anger. The key is to explain this to your children in a way that they are able to understand. “I’m sad about daddy leaving too, but he is trying to get better.”
4. Encourage Communication About the Child’s Feelings Without Judgment
Listening to your kids is a skill. Be curious about what they are sharing. Ask questions out of curiosity and listen.
5. Get More Information and Be as Educated as You Can
Alcoholism is a sickness, it’s a disease. Find out about treatment options.
6. Release the Shame That the Child May Be Experiencing
“It’s not your fault.” Think about the 7 C’s, which is coined by the National Association for Children of Alcoholics. I didn’t CAUSE it. I can’t CURE it. I can’t CONTROL it. I can help take CARE of myself by COMMUNICATING my feelings, making healthy CHOICES and CELEBRATING me.
You are not alone. 6.6 million children live in a home with one alcoholic parent. Unfortunately, there are plenty of kids who have and are going through similar things.
Al-Anon or Al-Ateen are great resources and there are groups going on throughout the day at any given time.
8. Utilize Your Support Network and Find Alternative Supports
If counseling is warranted, go that route. Talk to your friends. Be honest and open about the struggle. There is hope.
Hope is something that we often forget about. There is hope for those who are struggling and there are steps that you can take to best care for them.
Additional resources include the National Association for Children of Alcoholics and SAMHSA. Please seek help if you have a loved one stuck in addiction and especially if children are involved. Get out in front.