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How to handle parents with a drinking problem

Taking charge in this situation can many a time be the only solution for a child reports Samir Parikh

education Updated: Feb 09, 2011 09:27 IST
Samir Parikh

An ideal family is hard to come by. As a child and as an adolescent, one has certain basic expectations about one’s family and home atmosphere. We all desire a healthy atmosphere when we grow up. This would mean being surrounded by responsible, caring parents who foster a sense of security, happiness and satisfaction in children.

When these things do not happen, it can jolt us. It shatters our beliefs and colours our views, our thoughts about what and how life should be. And, most certainly, this is not easy. Having a parent who has a drinking problem can be a significant precursor to disrupting home atmosphere. The causes are varied and the impact, all pervasive. It affects not just the physical health of the alcoholic but also leads to a deterioration in relationships, has a detrimental effect on the mental health of other members of the family and can impact finances as well.

Growing up in such a home is not easy, to say the least. It tends to be very disorienting, very discouraging and shakes a child’s world view. It casts a shadow on the mental and physical health of the child. It can bring about a rift in the relationship between the parent and the child. Furthermore, it also can affect the child’s academic and personal life.

What such a child needs to or should do is not easy. However, taking charge in this situation can many a time be the only solution, even for a child, when it comes to his/her own well-being. For a child, it would mean thinking in a way that is beyond his/her age, which does not come naturally. Nevertheless, there are some things a child can most certainly do which can reduce his/her distress and potentially take care of the problem at hand.
. Do not blame your parents
. Understand that alco holism is an illness and requires intervention to stop
. Help in maintaining a positive environment at home
. Do not get into confrontations
. Discuss consequences of drinking on the health with your parent
. Create awareness and understanding of alcohol use
. Encourage the parent to take medical opinion
. Help the parent be regular for treatment
. Be a support system
. Learn yourself: Never get into alcohol

The author is a psychiatrist, and chief, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Healthcare