My Teen Daughter is an Alcoholic. How Can I Help Her?
Realizing that your teenage daughter is an alcoholic is difficult, but it’s important that you focus on solutions rather than laying blame. Some people are genetically predisposed toward alcoholism, and some people can be influenced by friends who abuse alcohol. Though you may feel very alone if you find out that your teen daughter is an alcoholic, you should know that this is a problem that is becoming more common. There are many resources available to you on what can be treated, both for medical help and for emotional support.
If you find that your child is abusing alcohol, you may feel angry. While this is an understandable emotion, reacting with anger at your child will probably be unhelpful in your quest to get her quality help and inspire her to work to overcome her problem. Your child may have an underlying issue that is contributing to her alcohol abuse; however, she may not know why she feels compelled to drink. Don’t pressure your child to give more information and she feels comfortable giving. Though it is important to monitor situations in which she could be immediate risk, allow her emotional privacy. Part of her treatment for alcoholism will include confiding in a therapist. Some teenagers find it easier to speak to a therapist than to a parent.
The steps you take to begin to deal with your daughter’s alcohol problem may depend on how you found out about it. If your daughter came to you asking for help, then you can immediately begin searching for alcoholism treatment resources. However, if your daughter is unwilling to admit her problem or does not want to communicate with you, you may need to stage an intervention. You should not attempt an intervention by yourself. Rather, you need expert guidance to ensure that the intervention has the best chance of being effective and that it is considerate of your daughter’s mental and emotional needs. The first step in staging an intervention for your teen is to consult with a professional organization that specializes in teen alcoholism. Some organizations will help you find a counselor to guide your family through the process.
The treatment options available to you may depend on the severity of your daughter’s problem. A good first step may be a call to your pediatrician. If your daughter does not want to see the pediatrician to talk about her problem, you should still call to ask for recommendations for rehab treatment resources.
If your daughter only has a mild drinking problem, a therapist may be able to help her deal with it. An individual therapist can be a good solution because it will allow your daughter to stay in school and participate in the majority of her normal activities. She won’t have to explain her absence from school to her friends, and you can decide on a case-by-case basis who knows about the problem.
For some teens, an individual therapist is not enough. Teens who are drinking often or a great deal may need to go to a detox program to rid their system of alcohol before they can begin to recover. A short-term or long-term treatment program may be the best option to help your teen recover from alcoholism and stay sober. Some programs allow the teen to detox at the center and then continue outpatient treatment while living at home. Other programs are residential and last for weeks to months. There are some things to consider when choosing the right rehab center. It is important that the treatment center caters only to teens. Adults should not be in the same facility as teens. Some treatment centers offer activities like cooking lessons and horseback riding. Choosing a program that has activities that your daughter enjoys may make her more willing to participate.
Once your daughter completes a treatment program, visits with the therapist may be recommended to help her stay sober. You may also be coached on warning signs to look for that might indicate if your daughter has relapsed. You might also be given tips on how to create an environment that lessens the likelihood that your daughter will drink.
Though it’s very upsetting to find that your teen has a drinking problem, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Teen drinking is a common phenomenon, which is why there are so many programs and treatment centers designed for teens. Take advantage of the many resources available on teen drinking, and do your research to ensure that you are choosing the best option, whether you pick a therapist, outpatient treatment program, or residential treatment program.