Almost seven million children in the U.S. have at least one alcoholic parent, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). If you have an alcoholic father, it can be easy to feel alone and worried about your health and safety as well as your alcoholic dad’s. Evidence shows children of alcoholic parents are at higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol themselves, and at higher risk for emotional, cognitive and behavior problems. In this article, we’ll help you answer the question: is my dad an alcoholic?
If you suspect your alcoholic father, you already know what it’s like to know what it feels like lost trust in the person who’s supposed to take care of you. Whether you’re the adult child of an alcoholic or in your teenage years, it’s never easy. You’re likely angry and frustrated. He’s missed important events, embarrassed you in front of friends, and his moods can change on a dime. But if you’re reading this, you probably still want to help him and yourself. You should be proud of the time you’re taking to learn more about alcoholism.
10 Signs of Alcoholism
Regardless of who you suspect may have a drinking problem, there are telltale signs of alcoholism. Signs of alcoholism are generally similar for everyone. Signs include:
- Attempts to cut down or stop drinking on more than one occasion have failed
- Missing important person functions or work events
- Drinking more or for longer than intended
- Continued drinking despite negative health consequences
- Frequent hangovers
- Continued drinking, despite harmful consequences at home and work
- Loss of interest in hobbies and actives that were once important
- Engaged in dangerous activities like drunk driving or excessive risk talking
- Dinking larger quantities of alcohol to achieve similar effects
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as shaky hands, insomnia, depression, nausea, irritability, anxiety, sweating, chills, and hallucinations
If your dad has any of these signs, his drinking is concerning. A “yes” answer to two or three suggest he may have mild alcohol use disorder (AUD). Answering “yes” to four of five suggests a moderate, and six or more qualifies as severe AUD.
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How to Help an Alcoholic Dad
You can’t fix your father’s alcohol addiction on your own, but you can help him help himself.
Have a Conversation
Is my dad an alcoholic? if you think you’ve answered this question, it’s time to make a plan. But confronting an alcoholic is never easy. It may even seem preferable to avoid the conversation, but alcoholism is a progressive and fatal disease. When someone enviably dies from alcoholism, family and friends often wonder what they could have done to save a life. The best way to approach the challenging conversation is out of a place of concern. Some people are ready for help, and the dialogue is positive. Other times, people may become defensive and deny their drinking has become an issue. It’s critical to have as many family members as possible express their love, concern, and the absence of judgment. The conversation may be uncomfortable, but your dad needs to hear you and how his drinking has affected your relationship with him. This conversation is the first step toward his and your recovery.
How to Get your Father Help for Alcoholism
Convincing dad that he needs rehab and mental health treatment may not be easy as he may have already tried A.A. or rehabs in the past. Many people aren’t successful the first time around, but that’s no reason to give up. What’s important is that he keep trying despite past failures. Fighting addiction is a lifelong battle, and treating the underlying causes of addiction is essential. Most importantly, he must be ready to change and receive help.
Many options exist for the treatment of alcoholism. From 30-day inpatient addiction treatment centers to Intensive outpatient programs, some options can work with his schedule. While treating the active addiction is important, he’ll never recover if the underlying problems aren’t addressed. Finding a treatment center that is therapy intensive is vital for success. Visit our Programs page to see what rehab options AspenRidge Recovery offers that may work with your father’s schedule.
If my Dad is an Alcoholic, will I be?
Addiction and its causes are highly complex. Your environment, genes, upbringing and brain chemistry all play a part in addiction. Risk factors for developing AUD include:
- Regular excessive alcohol use
- Family history of alcoholism
- Beginning to drink at an early age
- Mental health or illnesses like depression and anxiety
- History of trauma
- Engaging socially with frequent drinkers
We don’t choose our families, but their studies show that hereditary factors can be influential. Studies show that between 45% and 65% percent of the risk of developing an alcohol addiction is related to a family history of alcoholism. This risk does not guarantee a diagnosis of AUD. While your chances are higher, you also have a say in how you live your life. It’s critical to be aware of the risk and take steps to mitigate the chances of addiction.
How to Help Yourself
Addiction is a disease that affects the person drinking but also dramatically affects his loved ones. Is my dad an alcoholic? If you answered “yes,” you already know your father’s alcoholism affects your life as well. If you want him to reach out for help, you must be willing to do the same. Asking for help for yourself is the best thing you can do. Al-Anon is an organization for the family and friends of people suffering from AUD. They meet regularly across the world and help each other find understanding and support by sharing common experiences. AspenRidge Recovery also offers a Family Program for those who need to understand and receive support, just like the individual suffering from addiction. Our goal is to give the foundational tools to support a commitment from all family members to adjust toward living a better life as a family system. Surrounding yourself with support also helps foster an understanding that you’re not alone in your struggle and experience. It will give you hope for a happier, brighter future.
It’s important to know that your father is far from alone. According to the NIAAA, 16 million Americans have AUD. Help is available. Call 855-281-5588 now, and one of our advocates can help begin the process of recovery.
Common Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics
- Guarded personal relationships
- Unwilling or unable to trust yourself or others
- Low esteem
- Excusing others’ inappropriate behavior
- Withdrawing from emotionally challenging situations
- Inability to express feelings in an appropriate manner
- Sensitivity to comments from others
- Feeling a need to be perfect
- Prioritizing others needs before your own
Don’t forget this will require the entire family to receive help and move beyond the past trauma. Your father’s illness affected you, and it’s important to remember that you and your mental health are just as important as his.
Contact AspenRidge Recovery today if you suspect your dad needs help. We have several treatment programs and provide flexibility to treat alcohol use disorder. Our family program will also provide the foundation for both of you to rebuild your relationship. Call us at 855-281-5588 now.