Alcohol and Drug Abuse With Your Adult Child

 Alcohol and Drug Abuse Adult Children Dr. Neill.What happens when your adult child has a drinking or drugging problem?  What if there are alcohol and drug abuse?

When your adult offspring, son or daughter, starts drinking too much or using drugs, it affects everyone: brothers, sisters, boyfriends and girlfriends, and, of course, you the parents.

Let me share a personal story. My wife’s son, my stepson, had become addicted to hard drugs in his 20s, and he always drank excessively. He was an intellectually interesting young man with definite artistic talents and a good sense of humor. Lots of potential! He had girlfriends, but nothing lasted. For several years he was alienated from his siblings. He tended to hang around with other men who were also part of the drug/alcohol scene. Associating with this crowd got him beat up a couple of times and also led to his contracting HIV and hepatitis C. He lost jobs and got evicted from his apartment. He got an infection from an injury and the infection spread to his heart, necessitating a heart valve replacement.  Alcohol and Drug abuse was a huge impact.

My wife and I worried a lot as we went through 15 years of struggling to help our addicted son. With sending him to treatment in one form or another, letting him move in with us a couple of times, helping him financially, rescuing him, and yes, bribing him, nothing much changed except that his health became more fragile and we became more stressed. We went through a period ourselves of frequent conflict with each other with regard to what we should do regarding our son. It was affecting our relationship enough that we both sought counselling.

Through all this we came to realize that all we could really do was love him and accept him as he was, and, of course, stay open to his various attempts to change his lifestyle. As we backed away from our desperate attempts to help him, relationships improved all around. Our marriage was better and we both had good loving relationships with our son.

He did clean up for a time, but in the end, he died of heart failure at age 40 from causes related to his addictions. His loss is hard to bear, but we are very thankful for the closeness we had in his last couple of years.

One of the hardest things to accept was that we really couldn’t help him. All we could do was be there, love him, and emotionally support him in his efforts to better himself. As I reflect on this, I can see that our coming to a place of acceptance probably helped him significantly in his coming to terms with the life choices he had made.

A bit about context:

At the time of his death, I was working professionally with addicted men and women, with women married to addicted men, and with parents of adult addicted children. Later in the year of his death, my adopted daughter died from causes related to her alcohol abuse. And two years earlier I lost another son to causes related to his earlier excesses with alcohol.

If any part of my story touches something in your own life, I invite you to leave a comment. If you are reading this in an email, just hit reply.


Holiday Excesses and Alcohol Abuse

Dr Neill Neill Relationship CoachIt seems the holidays are a time of excess. Some of us spend too much, eat too much, and yes, drink too much (alcohol abuse). But it doesn’t stop there.

It seems that the volume gets turned up on everything at this time of year. Acts of generosity are magnified; for example, notice how the food banks get huge donations at Christmas time but are experiencing serious food shortages at other times of the year. Children may be showered with gifts their parents can’t afford. I remember how church attendance jumps at Christmas because there were so many people who attended church only at Christmas and Easter

However, the volume also gets turned up on negative things. Singles who are alone at Christmas, when Christmas used to be a time of family celebration for them, may feel particularly lonely. Suicides increase.

In a family with a history of spousal abuse, the frequency and intensity of the abuse often increase at this time of year. The abusing spouse’s alcohol abuse (drinking more than usual) can only make things worse.

However, there are things you can do to put the brakes on the escalations. The first and most crucial thing, of course, is to be keenly aware of what is happening and what could happen.

Every year hundreds of children are sexually abused by relatives and friends at holiday house parties. Your social class is irrelevant, so hire a babysitter to look after your children during a party, even though you are there.

Have non-alcoholic beverages readily available for everyone. Serve sweets, because part of the craving for alcohol is the craving for sugar. Sweets can help reduce that craving. Be ready to stop someone who is unsafe to drive home. I know this is hard, but you might be saving someone’s life, perhaps even a stranger’s mother, the way my mother was killed many years ago.

If you are at someone else’s party, always have an escape route. Prearrange with someone to pick you up if you call. If you are not going to drink yourself, drive your own car rather than accept a ride. If your partner has a tendency to drink too much, have a discussion in advance of the party to plan an intervention and the escape route.

As we head into the season, please do give some serious thought as to the role alcohol might play or not play in your holiday season. Let’s make Christmas a safe time as well as a fun time.

Hit reply and let me know your thoughts on this. If you are reading this on the website, leave a comment.


Learning to Deal with Adult Alcoholic Children

Alcoholic adult childIn one of my articles I talked about how addiction and codependency can be two sides of the same coin. That generated yet another request for an article about dealing with alcoholic children.

It’s a difficult assignment for me because the psychologist who helps others with relationships tainted by any of a myriad of issues, including addiction, codependency and dealing with adult children and parents who abuse alcohol, has himself fallen into many of the same traps.

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Alcohol Abuse and Codependency: Two Sides of the Same Coin

addiction / codependencyAs my sister-in-law’s ex-military husband sank into his confined world of alcoholism, she refused to shrink along with him. She was very clear she would not go through another divorce. Instead, she vigorously pursued her garden, bridge and investment club activities. She maintained a strong bond with her middle-aged daughter and many friends…until cancer ended her life.

Her approach was not typical. To her credit, she chose to look after herself, rather than adjusting her behavior to keep the marriage in balance.

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