How can I handle my alcoholic son?

I have an alcoholic son who is draining me financially. I want to get him help, but he doesn't want help. It's making me anxious and depressed.

Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor

What a heavy situation to be in.  It must be really hard to feel like you aren't able to help your son and the help you do try to give isn't truly helping him or you.  

There's some things in this situation that are out of your control--what your son does, if he takes help or doesn't, and the feelings that come up for you about that.  I can only imagine how draining it would be as a parent to be unable to change something so important.  It makes sense you'd be feeling anxious and depressed.

Let's switch for a minute to the things you have total control over--what are those things in this situation?  Maybe that's how you express your love for your son.  Or maybe it's how you choose to support him (even if it feels like it's a betrayal to him).  Pay attention as well to the amount of worry you experience--how much of that helps you plan vs how much of that is excess?  Knowing what worry isn't necessary can help to put you in control of how you spend some of your time.  You can replace this time with some self-care instead, giving back to yourself.

Finding support groups or people that have similar situations can be very helpful. I'd say they are almost necessary.  Knowing other people get what you are going through and understand the emotional toll can be somewhat healing.  They may also know other resources or ideas you can try that are available to people in your situation.

Something else to consider is grief work.  Letting go of some or all of the situation with your son (if that's what it comes down to) is a giant loss.  You probably already went through losing who your son was before the addiction, so it could be worth exploring the impact that had and has on you.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Establish limits on how much money you'll give to him, tell these limits, and as you pointed out, expect him to not care or respect your limits.

Try an Al-Anon meeting.   These meetings are for family members in similar situations to yours.

People who are addicted are not always willing to know themselves, understand their own emotional pain which contributed to their addiction, and then decide to live differently.

Additionally, these steps take a long time and there's no good reason for you to put your life in jeopardy in order for your son to take advantage of you.

Being a family member of an addict makes seeing the dynamics between you and him, difficult.

If some type of group meeting where you can learn from other people who are living in a similar circumstance isn't possible, see if you can find an equivalent of this online.

It helps a lot to know how others handles themselves in similar predicaments.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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