Al-Anon helps parents of problem drinkers

Published by at 10:45 am under Common Concerns

Welcome to “First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” from Al-Anon Family Groups. This is a series of podcasts to discuss some common concerns for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

Ellen, Joe, and Sharon are with us today. All are active Al-Anon members. They are willing to talk about how Al-Anon helped them deal with their children’s drinking.

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77 comments on “Al-Anon helps parents of problem drinkers”

  1. maxine says:

    My son is 35 and was such a lovely person. He is gone now and I don’t think he’s coming back — have been hoping he would for 9 years, but the drink has taken him. Can’t let him come home because he’s destroying us all and won’t stop. Now I can’t live with the guilt that I’ve abandoned him — something I always said I’d never do.

    Feel almost suicidal. Never knew or imagined how awful it is living with an alcoholic. Can’t even lay in bed now without feeling guilty about having a bed or home — but if I let him back, one day he will hurt someone. Look at old photos of him and feel like he’s dead. Heartbroken.

  2. Anne says:

    I feel all the pain n frustration of u all. I’m in the same place. I have a 35 yo son who’s an alcoholic. jus recently he leftbhome n hasn’t been home for 12 days. he and his wife fight constantly every day. no more love between them yet still together. these kids r suffering badly. but anyway I’m left with the kids and I’m 55 yo native american mom. I feel helpless. no help for me. idk what my son n his wife’s plans r, but now the courts r involved there seem to bbno end. now mybson is homeless n in the streets. Plz all pray for him and all of us who r living with this horrible sickness which grabs a hold of n doesn’t let go until the end. thanks for listening.

  3. Erica says:

    My mom, 53 years of age, has lost control and I’m not sure how to go about this. I am 29 years old, her only daughter, and I so really need her. She worked at UPS for almost 30 years straight and has been awesome all her life. She had a very bad situation happen between my dad and her, which caused her to unravel.

    I know she’s hurt and I know I probably can’t fix it, but she has turned to drinking every day and even turned into someone else. I’m back home because I had financial issues. Watching her kill herself is the worst for me right now. She has three children, but everyone moved away except for me.

    My dad and her are still together, but he’s an alcoholic too. They argue everyday, which doesn’t make the situation any better. She did an A.A. program last year, July, to try to get better. 30 days in there and I thought for sure she was back. It brought tears to see her back on her feet. I thought I had her back.

    I work a job that I know I can barely pay rent. I have to go to work just to maintain my life, along with my daughter. Eventually I left for work and she started sneaking and drinking while I was gone. Long story short, I thought I almost lost her yesterday, and everything flashed before my eyes.

    She thinks she has everything under control and became stubborn about the help part. I don’t know what to do. I don’t think that she has medical or life insurance to recover. I just need help with this, because I’m literally all she has. I love her and I don’t want to lose her.

  4. Wanjiku says:

    All these posts reflect my life. Afraid my 29-year-old son also with ADHD has lost yet another job and drinking 24/7. Can I force him into rehab yet again. So scared. Family fed up and left to live their lives.

  5. Erika says:

    I’m in tears reading your posts as they speak to my life. My daughter is 24 and has a real problem with drinking. She has been in several abusive relationships — twice almost caused her to lose her life. In every bad thing that she encounters drinking starts it. I have videos of her to show her the next day — and she still says it’s because we aren’t doing our part and we must have irritated her, so she justifies her behavior.

    I’m so sad and hurt because I see the demise it causes in my household. Her son is 4 and I’m so protective of him. And she sees a therapist, but when she’s raging drunk she yells out things like, “My therapist said I should march to the beat of my own drum,” and “My therapist said watch out for people in my life out to sabotage me.”

    I’m like with you, taking her words and making them fit the situation. She’s not telling this therapist she’s a toxic drinker, a delusional thinker when drinking, so I’m at a standstill, feeling like I’m abused, living life on egg shells, watching for her mood — afraid to leave her at home over night. Enough is enough! I love my daughter, but I don’t like her!

  6. Tom says:

    My 21-year-old daughter, who has been battling alcohol for a few years, is a binge drinker, has been living with me for a month since her school let her out for financial reasons.

    She has been ok and was really trying to be a help around the house. She got a job as a bartender at a grocery store. She seemed to be in control of the alcohol.

    Today, at 2 pm, we were planning to go out for a nice afternoon lunch, then my realtor stopped in. My daughter said she would run over and pick up her check and walked out as if all was normal.

    Eight hours later she was dialing my 14-year-old and then my 19-year-old. She had gotten so drunk at the grocery store where she works that she peed her pants and was calling them from the bathroom.

    Hours later she came in, still drunk, and started yelling at me. I asked her to go sleep it off and told her she should never drink and dial her sisters again as it is hurtful. She threatened to kill herself and went to the cutlery set in the kitchen.

    I told her if she did not go to bed now and quit yelling at me I would call the police. She said, “Good, then I won’t have to live here,” and a lot of other really hurtful things to me.

    I hate what drinking does to her and how angry it makes her.

    I told her if she would just quit the abuse, quit threatening to hurt herself, that I would call 911 back and tell them it was a misunderstanding, that she had a last chance to stop her behavior. She got worse and started screaming at me.

    The police eventually arrived. I told them she said she would hurt herself but probably did not mean it. They were going to let her be with a warning, but she apparently made the same utterances again to the officers and they cuffed her. She was so smug, as if she had won a battle, happy with herself for getting hauled away in cuffs.

    She is going to the psych ward. She may be there for 3 days or maybe 30. The officers do not know.

    I am so sad. My beautiful baby has become something horrible.

    I am crying. I have not cried since my wife died 8 years ago.

    Pray for us.

  7. Hazel says:

    I sympathize with every one of these people. I have a 48-year-old alcoholic son living with me, because his girlfriend kicked him out. He has nowhere else to go. I am now at the point of wanting to kick him out myself, but where will he go? Probably be a homeless down-and-out, or die for lack of support.

    I am his mother and I love him to bits, but he is totally changing my life, and not for the better! I am a 66-year-old pensioner living alone (till he came) and getting on with my life. But since my son arrived at my home, all I seem to do and think about is him!

    In the space of one week he has been pulled for drunk-driving, been taken to hospital because he fell in drink, and is now up in court! I love him, but I think a stint of prison might wake him up (hopefully!).

    He lost his job through drink and now doesn’t seem to want one again. I am so miserable! I really don’t know what to do. I have stopped helping him financially, and stopped taxiing him to and from pubs. He’s killing me.

  8. Chris p says:

    I don’t feel so alone now with my daughter’s alcohol problem. You are all going through the same stress as me. I cannot cope anymore, but I know I have to for my grandchildren. I pray God will help me and you also.

  9. karyn p says:

    I should not be surprised that my son is an alcoholic, or that I enable him. It’s all I know–my grandfather, father and husband are. So why does this hurt me so much more? Probably because he is my son, and it’s hard to stop loving your kids–but it’s time for me to have a little peace in my life!

  10. Lila says:

    I don’t know what can I do for my son. He is 30 years old and he is alcoholic. He lost his job and had a drinking while driving charge and the police took his driver’s license 2 years ago and he was 30 days in jail–but he continued with alcohol.

    My husband and I have no life, no money, no rest, nothing because of him. He won’t go from our home and says, I don’t have any place to live. I hope we can get help me without him knowing.

  11. Anna says:

    Please pray for my son, Joel, 22 years old, who stopped drinking and now started again. My mother who is 70 years old is taking care of him. He troubles my mom and forcefully takes her money. Please, I beg all to pray for us.

  12. mara says:

    My 24-year-old is an alcoholic. He has been since 17. He is sneaky and lies. It’s destroying my family. I need help. He just got back from detox. He drinks shots at 5 a.m., bottles and bottles of vodka. We find them as he tries to hide them. I want to run away. Our county needs to address our youth and help them with mental health.

  13. Bennett says:

    Our son is an alcoholic. He started drinking to excess approximately 5 years ago. He is 33, has 3 small children and a supportive wife. He went to rehab 16 months ago and was put on a medication that makes him violently ill if he has any alcohol. He stopped this medication twice in the past 16 months to attend bucks nights and both times ended up drunk. The second time he continued to drink the day after the party and we had to call an ambulance as he blacked out.

    Our son is as type 1 diabetic and has been for 18 years. We told him he could have died and he told us he was sorry etc., etc. He has been back on the meds since, but now he is saying he wants to go off them and “learn to drink in moderation.”

    We don’t trust him at all and feel he will not be able to drink in moderation. He has a great job and beautiful little children. His wife is aware of his plan. He is seeing a psychologist and says that is the goal they have set together, but we don’t believe him. He is addicted to alcohol and will not admit he can never drink again. We feel it will kill him if he risks this again, and my husband and I have this sick feeling all the time. So terrible.

  14. Dave says:

    My son is 37 years old. He is married with three children. He has a wonderful wife, two great jobs and his wife has a great job. My son is an alcoholic. Sometimes he manages to “only” drink on weekends and when they travel, but that seems to be coming undone. His wife is drinking too. This isn’t social drinking, this is drinking to get drunk. They are both spiraling out of control.

    My daughter received an email from their fifteen-year-old daughter at 2:30 in the morning on Friday. It said that they had again left her alone with the other kids, ages 8 and 2; plus someone else’s child she didn’t even know. She said that her grades are tanking, (she has been a straight A student to this point). She said that she felt she was going crazy and that she was severely depressed, and that her parents had been drinking almost daily. What a sad email to have read to me.

    I called my son and after many, many times of him telling me he was quitting drinking I had had enough. At the risk of alienating him and his wife who I both love dearly; I told them if they didn’t seek appropriate help immediately that I was going to call Child Protective Services.

    He told me that if I called CPS he would hate me forever and that I would never see our grandchildren again. I told him that I loved him dearly but that I would do whatever was in my power to ensure that his three children would no longer grow up in a home that abuses alcohol. You are a parent forever and it is your duty to try and save your children, even from themselves.

  15. Robin says:

    My son is 34 years old and he is an alcoholic. He doesn’t work. He says he can’t find a job, but I know better. He could be working with his dad, if he wanted, until he could find something else. He could be making $10.00 per hour, living at home, no bills, being driven to and from work, paying nothing for gas, no taxes, but why would he do anything different when he can sleep here and there a couple days at a time, then come home sleep, eat , watch cable TV, and use the computer, sober up and start all over again.

    He doesn’t have a key to the house, because he doesn’t deserve one. I told him that his dad and I were going out of town for New Years and I was afraid to leave him home. He was so mad and I think in shock that he left the house and I/we haven’t spoken to or seen him since.

    I have my moments when I start to feel really bad, but I’m learning that I have to do something to change my situation. I can’t and will not continue to let him live in my home and self-destruct the way he has for the last 10 years. I refuse to watch it anymore. It is too painful. I’m learning to set boundaries, continuously praying and seeking support, because I can’t do it alone. So broken-hearted.

  16. Paddy says:

    My son is 42 & has been a functional alcoholic for about 18 years. He gets drunk on beer after 8 pm & keeps drinking all night till early morning, after which he sleeps till 2 pm. He does not have a job currently, but is working on a website from home. It does not fetch him any income, but causes expenditure. As a result, the responsibility of his 2-year-old son is totally on the mother, who is hardworking.

    He has attended rehab centers (for meditation & yoga) & has shown he can stay off beer for 3 weeks at a stretch. When he had a regular job, he would take care to be dry during the weekdays. If there is something important to be done the next day, he remains in control.

    The problem is he is unable to handle any stress & uses alcohol as an outlet. Now with the fall in oil prices, people are losing jobs in his town & he is now terribly worried about his future. He is hitting the bottle daily.

    We find it very difficult to advise him. He takes it wrongly. We live in another country & he keeps calling us to pour out his problems in a half drunk state. All this is affecting my psyche & physical health.

    We are tired of telling people untruths that all is ok with him. We also fear we may find it financially difficult to keep sending him money. We have retired from service & live on senior citizen incomes.

    I wish I knew the way to cope with this malady. I need to stop worrying. I have an old mother to look after, too. I pray the Almighty to give me the strength to cope, how to accept this & how to handle this. Thank you.

  17. peggy says:

    I have a 30-year-old son who is an alcoholic and was to the point of drinking till he would black out. He doesn’t remember anything, but did beat his girlfrind and is sitting in jail. We are trying to get him in-treatment and hope to have him moved next Friday.

    He had to hit rock bottom to realize he was in trouble. I pray that God helps all children. It is hard to stand back and watch them hit rock bottom, but I see a change for the good in my son.

  18. Cindy says:

    My son is trying to stay away from drinking. He needs help. He is 28 and has had a problem since he was 18. He dropped out of college. More recently he lost a high paying job because he went to work drunk. He has another job and so far has missed one day due to bingeing on a Sunday night.

    He and his 2 sons live with us, my husband and me. The grandkids’ mother is incarcerated for drug problems. He also had a drug problem, but has cleaned up. He turns on me when drinking and I have to threaten the law on him. I am so sick of the abuse. I have always cleaned up his mess. He has lost so much.

  19. Susan says:

    There are too many people in turmoil over their child’s drinking. I am one of them.

    I live in Ontario in Canada. My 24-year-old son has messed his life up. He is a miserable drunk. He was charged with assault with a weapon–hit his girlfriend in the eye with his cellphone to get those charges. He missed a probation date and is up on a charge for that. We have paid the legal bills, bailed him out, and are now his surety, which basically feels like we are in prison, not him.

    He was intoxicated, delusional and I called 911 for paramedics to take him to the hospital for a psych. consult. He panicked and thought I had called police, despite the fact that we repeatedly told him we had called paramedics. He went out the upstairs bathroom window, jumped off the roof and shattered his left heel. In the hospital he was abusive to staff, had to be put in restraints. He yelled and told them not to tell me anything as I lie and I am a bitch.

    I stayed up there all night in another waiting room, hoping to talk to a doctor from psych. It became all about his heel and all about getting him out of there. A nurse, not a doctor from psych, evaluated him and said he was fine to go home, no immediate danger to himself or others. And they sent him home with Percocet after I begged them not to.

    They escorted us out with police. I was utterly humiliated. Our health care system is broken to pieces. The family doctor got a report about this, took him off of antidepressants and is trying to get him into a psychiatrist, which could take up to six months where we live. What is wrong with this picture?

    His parole officer set him up with appointments so he could get social assistance and he has started drinking now that he has some money. He owes us 5 thousand dollars in legal fees alone. He stole my jewelry, took money from his father. We now have a safe.

    Tonight he is drinking vodka that he must have had delivered to the house while we were at work. He is calling me names and putting me down. We need a babysitter for him. His counsellor told us they will never take him into rehab like this.

    I want to give up his surety, which means he will go to jail until his breach of parole charge is taken up by the court. I have very little hope, and feel completely tormented. Our daughter moved out just because of his drinking. She could not take the turmoil in our home any longer.

    If he goes to jail/correctional facility, I fear it will only help his already terrible self esteem to go down further, but on the other hand, we cannot live like this anymore. I wonder how a parent kicks their child out to jail, and to the street.

  20. Wini says:

    My older son finally admitted to me last night, after years of drinking, that he can no longer get off of alcohol like he used to, he must keep drinking or go into shakes, vomiting, maybe worse. I’ve been in Al-Anon 9 yrs. & have a measure of peace & serenity that I never had before. I’ve put him in his Higher Power’s care. I still love him, still worry about the complete destruction this addiction has on his life. But we continue to have a relationship because of Al-Anon. I am so grateful for that.

  21. cindy says:

    My son just lost another job, getting kicked out of his new place that I got for him. Now he wants to move back with me. I told him no, I feel so bad for him. I don’t know what to do. I am at a loss. I feel like I have abandoned him. He has lost everything because of his drinking, and not the first time. It’s over and over again. I hope I’m being strong and doing the right thing.

  22. christine says:

    My son has lost everything and doesn’t care. I don’t want to lose him, but he is on self-destruct. People say leave him go to rock bottom. As a mum, I don’t know if he will survive. My family is ripped apart because I support him. I am at a loss as to what to do.

  23. Andrea says:

    I don’t know what to do. My disabled mother has given up on life and is killing herself with alcohol. I had to move in with her when my child was born because I found out I had cancer. This is before she got disabled. My child is ten now and I am finally in remission.

    My mom got diagnosed with spinal stenosis and became unable to be a nurse anymore. She is on social security and I’m on disability. For the past two years since she retired she has become a heavy alcoholic. This is a bad situation for her, for my health, and especially for my daughter who has been having fits of rage. I am afraid if I leave my mom she will drink so much she doesn’t remember taking her pain meds and overdose. I keep track of her medicine and try to hide the bottle, which gets the three of us in a huge fight.

    I was an alcoholic and have been sober for eleven years. I totally understand her wanting to drink, but she doesn’t see how it’s destroying our family. I’m totally exhausted, financially spent, and don’t know what to do! I need help but I don’t know where to turn. I’ve wanted to go to Al-Anon but I’m so afraid something will happen if I leave for even an hour.

  24. Barb says:

    Ohhh, I need help. My son has been self-medicating for his anxiety, panic, with alcohol and is in an awful place. I am agonized over this and it is killing me.

    Been battling this for a year and a half and things just get worse. He decided to quit cold turkey at home, had the shakes, vomiting, etc., until I found him having a seizure, called 911 and he spent less than 24 hrs in the hospital with iv’s and meds. Two days later he gets in a single car accident, not hurt, and a DUI. While still on probation from his last one.

    I had told him if it ever happened again that he was not allowed to stay here. This was the hardest thing for me to do. I feel so guilty and awful, like I have abandoned him. He is now at his dad’s, and is sneaking alcohol, but not fooling anyone.

    Since he has terrible panic attacks, he takes Ativan and mixes it with alcohol. He is a train wreck. Refuses to get any help or admit he has a problem. I am dying inside.

  25. christine says:

    I feel so guilty and wonder what is the right thing to do–leave him to it, or hide the alcohol.

  26. caz says:

    I am worried , scared and in pain – I love my daughter and our relationship is good most of the time , but recently I have started to become resentful because she seems to have no idea of what she puts me through.

    I reckon she does not even remember most of what she puts myself and her son through and ‘loses days,’ but I don’t lose them. I am there watching and experiencing the nightmare which is drink.

    I take care of her 6-year-old son who has special needs when things get bad, but because I do not want to leave her on her own in a drunken state, I stay and look after both of them.

    Her drinking has gotten worse since a sudden, double bereavement in the family, which is not surprising, but after 6 weeks of looking after her and my grandson on my own, I am exhausted, stressed and generally ill myself, not sleeping or eating well etc. and I reckon it is time to take care of myself now.

    I have the worry of my grandson, who I adore, being taken away from us, but I try to trust and believe it will not get to that, as she has admitted she has a problem and has taken steps to get help for it, as she does not want to lose her son, too, or have this life which comes with the drinking when she realises how things are so much better when she is not drinking.

    One of the main triggers at the moment is her boyfriend, a heavy drinker who does not admit he has a problem, so he drags her down and brings tons of stress into her life, which she could definitely do without, but it is her choice to be with him and have him in her life, even though it is very hard for me to accept that she is making that choice.

  27. claire says:

    Having observed my son’s alcoholic drinking for the past 10 years, I went to my first Al-Anon meeting. I was impressed with the acceptance and courage of the participants and I left the meeting feeling stronger and more able to cope.

    That very week his drinking went from bad to worse. I have not slept in a week and he is drinking in a local bar night and day. He is also driving drunk and it is only a matter of time before he kills someone. I find it impossible to turn off agonizing night and day about the possible catastrophic outcomes.

    I am currently on holiday from work but am due to return shortly. I am worried about how I am going to cope when I return to work in a high-powered stressful environment, where I manage a department. Up until now my son has been working in other countries, but he has left or been fired from yet another job and is living in the family home. His drinking and his morose personality are affecting everyone in the home.

    My husband is in favour of taking a tough line with him, but I feel so sorry for him and I know that somewhere, given professional help, is a good decent person. I am also worried about my son’s mental state, as he has become so withdrawn and we only see him when he’s drunk and the rest of the time he spends in his room, hungover.

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