Teenagers shouldn’t be drinking alcohol, plain and simple. Unfortunately, the truth is that many teens will experiment with alcohol during their high school years.
Some will pass the point of simple experimentation and may develop full-on alcoholism.
If the latter sounds like your son, talk to him about it as soon as possible. Studies show that teens benefit more from early intervention.
Here’s how to talk to your son about his drinking problem:
Start a Dialogue with Your Son
Communication is key when confronting a loved one about a substance use disorder. It can be easy to get emotional and accuse your son of being an alcoholic, but remember that throwing out blame rarely results in a productive conversation.
Instead, sit him down and start a dialogue. Remember that this is a two-way street – you have your opportunity to express your concerns, but you should also give your son the chance to speak.
Addictions or alcoholism never starts “just because”. Your son didn’t simply pick up a bottle one day and decide to become an alcoholic. There’s likely another issue, such as depression, that he’s going through, using alcohol to mask the emotional discomfort.
Keep this in mind during your conversation about your son’s drinking problem, and make sure he has the opportunity to explain himself.
When talking to your son about his drinking problem, there are bound to be lots of emotions that come up. Anger, guilt, frustration, shame, resentment.
It’s important not to let these emotions get the better of you during your conversation. Prepare yourself mentally beforehand – meditate, do some breathing exercises, know that it’s not going to be easy.
If you let your emotions get the better of you, it’s likely your conversation will be unproductive. Staying calm, while difficult, is the most effective way to find a positive outcome.
What if it Doesn’t Work?
Now, what if, despite your best efforts, your conversation with your son about his drinking doesn’t go well? Maybe your son lashes out and refuses to talk to you. Maybe he admits to having a problem but won’t go to rehab.
Research has shown that an empathetic approach tends to be more effective when dealing with an addicted loved one. However, you’re the parent, and if your son is a minor living under your roof, you have the right to exercise your authority.
Consider setting boundaries with your son until he’s ready to talk about his drinking problem. As a loving parent, this may be difficult and go against your instincts. But it’s important not to love your son to death.
Does Your Son Need Treatment for His Drinking Problem?
The type of treatment required for your son to overcome his drinking problem will vary depending on how much he has been drinking. He may need to detox under medical supervision if his alcohol addiction was severe. For more moderate to mild alcohol use, inpatient or outpatient therapy may do the trick.
Any Length Recovery specializes in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and using them to help addicted men and their families to achieve lifelong recovery from substance abuse. To find out more about our program, please give us a call today at (512) 746-0138.