Underage drinking is more common than we like to think. While many teens have the odd drink or two out of standard teenage rebellion or just at a social event with friends, it is possible for them to develop alcohol problems, just like anyone else.
Knowing that you may have alcoholic children is stressful. This suspicion can put a weight in your stomach. How can you help?
This is a sensitive situation and you don't want to punish your kids and drive them further away. So what do you do?
We want to offer some advice. Keep reading for a brief guide on helping your child when they're managing an alcohol addiction.
Identify the Cause
Knowing why your child is drinking is just as important as identifying the problem in the first place.
As we said, the casual drink now and then isn't usually a cause for concern (though you may want to address it). When your teenager is abusing alcohol, though, there's likely an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
Is your child experiencing a lot of stress at home or school? It's possible that they're experiencing a bullying problem or too much academic pressure.
If your home life has been unstable (such as through a messy divorce, any fighting within the home, or just teen angst building up with no outlet) this can also influence your teen.
It's also possible that your teenager is craving risk-taking behavior. This is common for teens who are testing boundaries and increasing their desire for independence.
Address the Issue
You're going to have to talk to your kid about this. Make sure you're in a safe and calming place when you do this and be careful not to trap your child.
They're probably going to get defensive. Be prepared for this and approach it from a place of understanding, not aggression. It's tempting to punish a child for alcohol use but when it becomes a problem, it's a mental health issue.
You wouldn't punish a child for depression so you shouldn't punish them for alcoholism.
Inpatient Is for the Worst-Case Scenario
For adults who are managing addictions, it can be most beneficial to spend some time in a residential rehabilitation center. It helps people avoid the stressors of everyday life and get back on their feet.
For your child, though, this isn't the best choice unless they need medical intervention. Keeping your kids at home while they're managing their substance abuse problem will help them maintain a sense of normalcy.
It's also good for them to stay in school as much as possible. Being set back might add more stress (and increase the need to drink).
Instead, opt for a therapist or counselor. They may suggest group therapy so your child doesn't feel isolated.
If your child experiences stress at home or school, be sure to have a talk about how you can help mitigate these problems. If it's risk-taking that's the draw, try encouraging "safer" experiences like rock-climbing, free-running, ziplining, or other variants of extreme sports and activities. While these things are dangerous, they provide a healthy outlet.
Helping Alcoholic Children Requires Tact
When your teenager has a problem it's important to address it early on. You can't embarrass your child and drive them further into their alcoholism, but you do need to be a supportive figure to guide them.
Remember that alcoholic children are still growing and learning and treat them as such. To find rewards for achieving recovery success, check out our products. We are here to help.