Stress and coping among children of alcoholic parents through the young adult transition PMC

Dealing with an alcoholic parent rarely gets easier, even as you reach adulthood. You may experience conflicting emotions regarding your involvement in your family and how to relate to your parent. While this task is never easy, there are ways to interact more effectively with your family and help decrease tensions.

For adolescents, studies have found stronger relations between substance use and major life events than between substance use and daily hassles. Finally, negative, major life stressors have been more strongly linked to substance use than have positive events (Wills, 1986). The myriad conceptualizations of coping currently make explication of a single agreed upon operationalization of coping impossible; however, several popular distinctions have emerged. Coping strategies permit greater exploration of variability in coping responses as a function of stressors and context as well as a clearer elaboration of the coping process itself.

Ensure Your Safety and Create a Support System

There are a variety of ways to treat alcoholism, and no single program works for every individual; however, some approaches tend to be more effective than others. For example, people who surround themselves with supportive family and friends may find it easier to enter recovery, whereas those who go it alone may find it far more difficult. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not actually the ethanol in alcoholic beverages that triggers asthma symptoms. Alcoholic drinks contain histamine, which is a natural chemical that the body releases during allergic reactions. In some people, histamine can make asthma symptoms worse and even result in a fatal asthma attack.

What are the 4 types of drinker?

Generally, people drink to either increase positive emotions or decrease negative ones. This results in all drinking motives falling into one of four categories: enhancement (because it's exciting), coping (to forget about my worries), social (to celebrate), and conformity (to fit in).

Call or text your parent frequently to let them know that you’re thinking of them, and plan to get together with them when you can. Taking your parent’s mind off alcohol will be especially helpful if and when they decide to recover. Experts highly recommend working with a therapist, particularly one who specializes in trauma or substance use disorders. According to Peifer, a mental health professional can help you connect deep-rooted fears and wounds stemming from childhood to behaviors, responses, and patterns showing up in your adult life. Research suggests that about 1 in 10 children lives with a parent who has an alcohol use disorder, and about 1 in 5 adults lived with a person who used alcohol when they were growing up. Parents with an AUD may have difficulty providing children a safe, loving environment, which can lead to long-term emotional and behavioral consequences.

Relations between adolescent predictors and young adult stress and substance use

External messages that you’re bad, crazy, and unlovable become internalized. You’re incredibly hard on yourself and struggle to forgive or love yourself. During childhood, you came to believe that you’re fundamentally flawed, and the cause of the family dysfunction. There are so many things that alcoholic families don’t talk about – to each other and especially to the outside world.

Structure your conversation around bringing up that they might have a problem and that you are concerned. Don’t initiate the conversation when your parent is intoxicated, and try to find a time when you can talk honestly, one-on-one. State that you care about them, and you’re having the conversation because you’re concerned about their well-being.

What Do I Do If My Alcoholic Parent Refuses Help?

That’s why most experts now avoid terms like “alcoholic” and “alcoholism,” and why the most recent edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)” uses updated terminology to define substance use disorders. A parent’s alcohol use disorder (AUD) can have a major impact on your mental and emotional well-being — not just in your childhood, but also well into your adulthood. Fourth, transition-related stressors are, in part, defined by their likely contribution to the central task of this period, identity development (Arnett, 2000). For this reason, avoidant forms of coping, for example, may be particularly deleterious by signifying the potential for delay in developmental gains.

“Dr. Jan” (as she was known) was a best-selling author, lecturer, and counselor who was also married to an alcoholic. As with anything, developing the right treatment plan is a crucial step towards a successful recovery. Be engaged in the process and open to suggestions from those around you including your support system, other family members, loved ones, and medical staff.

Valuable Lessons I Learned from My Father’s Alcohol Addiction

Apart from the society and people around them, adult children of alcoholic parents are the biggest victims of the action of their parents. The problem lies solely with the alcoholic parent, but often, children internalize blame, wondering what they did to make their mother or father drink too much. Even when the parent develops an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) problem later in life, it can still be stressful for adult children.

  • “Dr. Jan” (as she was known) was a best-selling author, lecturer, and counselor who was also married to an alcoholic.
  • For adult children of alcoholics, watching a parent ruin their health and relationships with alcohol is often so devastating that even staying in touch is fraught with tension.
  • There are so many things that alcoholic families don’t talk about – to each other and especially to the outside world.
  • If you’re a child of an alcoholic, that doesn’t mean that everything on this list will apply to you.
  • The first step to helping a parent who is suffering from alcoholism is to confront the situation head on.

These groups can provide invaluable support for you, which will help you better support your parents’ alcoholism treatment. Because as a child life felt out of control and unpredictable, as an adult you try to control everyone and everything that feels out of control (which is a lot). You struggle to express yourself, subconsciously remembering how unsafe it was to speak up in your family. In the absence of a stable, emotionally supportive enviornment, you learned to adapt in the only ways you knew how. As an adult, though, you can learn to manage and change specific behaviors that no longer help you, which can improve your overall well-being, quality of life, and relationships with others.

Over time, research shows that children of parents with substance use issues are at greater risk for depression, anxiety disorders, behavior and academic problems. They are also four times more likely than their peers to develop substance use issues later in life. Alcohol use disorders, more commonly known as alcoholism, affect approximately 17.6 million Americans. Alcohol is by far the most commonly abused substance in the United States.

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