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3 Tips for Teens with Parents who Struggle with Alcohol

Updated: May 29, 2022

When I was a freshman in high school I went to stay the night at my friend’s house. When I arrived, his mom was on the couch watching a movie, slurring her words, and holding an almost empty bottle of vodka in her hand.

My friend was somewhat embarrassed saying, “That’s just what she does, ignore her”.

While at the time I simply brushed the situation under the rug and moved on, my friend had a perpetual struggle in his home.

He had an alcoholic parent.

He was the first friend that I met who I personally saw alcohol addiction in the flesh, but he wasn't the last.

According to AACAP, “One in five adults have lived with an alcoholic relative while growing up.”

Alcohol use and abuse is widespread and can have deep impacts on a developing teen’s self image, confidence, academics, anxiety, friendships, mood and more. It is important and urgent to take steps towards help and healing.

Here are some helpful tips and places to turn to turn to if you have a parent in the family who struggles with alcohol.


1. Talk with a Trusted Adult

Talking with a trusted teacher or a best friend’s parent can be great people to turn to to let someone know what is going on in the house. It can simply be helpful to have other people who know what is going on and can help you in case of an emergency and be an emotional outlet and support for you.

You never know what might happen when someone is drunk.

Alcohol impacts the decision-making part of the brain. In moments of inebriation, parents can make really dumb decisions, and also dangerous decisions.

Having a trusted adult know what is going on can help you have someone to call when an emergency happens.

2. Attend Alateen

Alateen can be a healing place for many teens who struggle with family member's alcohol addiction. Alateen is a place for young people to support one another, share in their difficulties and experiences, and instill hope in one another. Alateen members also are educated on alcoholism and learn about compulsive drinking as a disease, rather than a choice.

It can be awkward to join a new group by yourself. Something that might make attending meetings easier is asking a friend to join you, or attending one of their zoom meetings.

If you are in Arkansas, here are a list of meetings that you can attend virtually HERE.

3. Stay involved

If you have a parent that struggles with alcohol addiction, my biggest piece of advice for you is to stay involved.

You may feel embarrassed about your parents’ behavior. Your parents may not be able to consistently support you and drive you places. Ask a friend if they can drive you to practice, or to the club meeting.

I encourage you to strive to participate in a sports team, a club, or a theatre program. It might not be easy, but making the effort to stay involved despite your parents' issues is important.

Focusing on fun and responsibilities can help you spend more time away from the addiction, can help you stay positive, and help you to continue developing friendships that can last a lifetime.

If you are a teen who has a parent struggling with alcohol addiction, my heart goes out to you. It's not easy to see a parent suffer, and also cause suffering to others through their addiction. My hope is that you reach out to someone for help.

Find the strength and support to overcome alcohol addiction for yourself and for your future family.

If you are in an emergency or a dangerous situation, please call 911. Jesse's services are not intended to be crisis intervention and/or response services. Text HOME to 741741 to reach a volunteer Crisis Counselor.


Does your teen need a little extra help? Counseling may be the next step for you.

If you are looking for counseling in Bentonville, AR, consider scheduling a counseling session with Teen Focused Counseling.

The best part is, your first session is free.

So try us out. No risk to you. See if we are the right counseling solution for you.


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