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I Don't Know If My Son Has a Drinking Problem, How Can I Help Him if He Is an Alcoholic?

He is 23 works at a full time job and will start college soon (again). Let me start at the beginning. He has medical problems, that we have been trying to solve since he was around ten years old. It started with the tremors of his hands, then concentration while reading, and not being to sleep for days on end.

He has had every test under the sun that can be done. He was on three medications. First they put him on Ritalin for concentration. He was on a statin, because he would have times when his blood pressure would rise and he would have hot flashes. Now they took him off the statin and put him on Risperidone 1 MG.

His drinking background started when he was 18 and living away from home playing junior hockey, for 2 years. Then he went away to school, which he could not handle because of his medical problems and I suspect drinking. He then went to a community college in another state.

Because of finance and his medical problems (so he could make doctors app.) he moved home a month ago. He drinks at bed time, I think to help him sleep. In the morning in the the shower I hear him getting sick in the shower. He's very moody, and easily upset.

I have found empty JD bottles in his room. We have talked to him about his drinking and he assures us that there is not a problem. We are very concerned, and we do not know how to help him. We both have alcoholism in our families. If he is not a full blown alcoholic I fear he is well on his way to becoming one.

Any help that you could relay back to me will be greatly appreciated. Thank you Answer

Firstly you need to try and make it okay with your son to be open and honest with you about his drinking and what he's going through. Reassure him you won't judge him and merely want to help - because one of the main reasons people with drinking problems are afraid to admit what they're going through is the stigma of being deemed an alcoholic.

The reality is however that no matter what you say or do ... if your son isn't ready to address his drinking (often largely due to denial), it becomes very difficult to help him. Because only once he's really ready to face up to what he's doing and take total responsibility for his life, can anyone really help him.

And most drinkers only reach that point once they've reached their own rock bottom. So the best thing you can do as a parent is not to enable his behavior and force him to start living with the consequences of his decisions, no matter how unpleasant they are. That will hopefully help him reach the point faster where's he wants to address his drinking problem than would otherwise be the case.

Your son's medical history does make your situation a bit more complex, but you can still learn to apply the above mentioned principles, while making sure his medical needs are taken care of. Organizations like Al-Anon are especially helpful for someone in your position because they help you confront what you're faced with in a much more effective way.

The bottom line is that your son needs professional help. An in or out-patient alcohol treatment program would be the best places to start, and if you can facilitate that, you'd be on the right path.

The problem is if your son isn't willing or isn't prepared to admit the extent of his problem. That's when you need to start using some of the other measures suggested to try and get him to that point. Putting clear boundaries in place, making sure you don't enable him, and forcing him to take total responsibility for his choices (no matter how bad) ... are the best chances you've then got.

Best of Luck

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