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19 Year Old Son Won't Admit He Has a Drinking Problem

by Cari
(Ankeny, IA USA)

My son just completed his freshman year of college. His "fun" started before a year ago before he graduated high school when he got his first public intox. Our family moved, and he insisted on going back to visit friends instead of getting a job and meeting people in the new town.

On a visit back last summer he got his second public intox and a 5th degree criminal mischief charge for urinating on a rug inside a golf course. College started and he played football his first semester and decided the university was too small and he wanted to transfer to the state college. This past semester he got 2 MIP charges. He is making payments on fines that amount to $900.

He was supposed to start a summer job tomorrow, but after visiting old friends again this weekend, he lost his car key. The only one he has, because he lost the other one last summer when he went back to visit. As parents, we really don't know what to do anymore.

I have been praying for God to change his heart. It is such a disappointment to see a high school star athlete, honor roll student, turn to a young adult who is trying to have the "time of his life". I just need advice..... Answer

Hi Cari

College years are often difficult as a parent to deal with, because for most children it's often the first time in their lives they experience so much freedom, added to which binge drinking combined with heavy partying is part of the culture.

So unfortunately a lot of kids seem to go off the rails for a while and do everything but what you would hope for, i.e. take their studies and future seriously. For most, it's a phase that passes, but of course you are right to be concerned, because for others it's also where serious problems can develop.

At that age the concept of alcohol and responsible just don't go in the same sentence usually, which can then of course lead to a drinking problem developing. So while being concerned and not agreeing with your son's behavior, try and see it from the perspective of the stage of his life he's currently in.

So what should you do? Talk to your son, not as a strict controlling parent, but adult to adult. Explain to him that he's old enough to make his own decisions and is responsible for his behavior, so while you don't agree with his drinking habits, you can't stop them. But if things continue the way they are and he continues behaving so irresponsibly because he's intoxicated, there will be consequences.

And you need to decide beforehand what those consequences will be and it has to be something that will hurt him - so that he begins to understand the principle that with poor choices, come undesirable consequences. So it may be something like take away his car or whatever else you think will hit the message home hard.

Hopefully then the message will start getting through to your son. You can't stop him behaving the way he is, but if he starts experiencing consequences for his drinking, it may motivate him to look at doing things differently.

Best of Luck

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