Q&A: Our teen son is an alcoholic

Q: Our teenage son has a drinking problem; in fact, at this point I’d call him a full-blown alcoholic. His behaviour is impacting everyone in the family and tearing our household apart. Help!?

A: You’re not alone. Unfortunately, substance abuse can affect even close-knit families with strong values. Our staff counsellors have several recommendations in this case.

First, denying or ignoring the problem will likely just make things worse; so you’ve made a good start by asking for help. Second, don’t allow yourself to become burdened by false guilt – most parents assume extensive self-blame when an addiction surfaces in their home. Third, don’t look for or expect quick-fix solutions. There will be no complete healing until your son learns to accept responsibility for his actions. This could be a long process requiring a great deal of patience and perseverance on your part.

We strongly recommend that you seek professional counselling as a family. The most successful treatment programs involve intensive evaluation with therapy in an environment of community and accountability. Our Family Support Services can provide referrals to helpful programs and qualified therapists in your area; call 03-7954 7920 or write to support@family.org.my.

If the situation continues to escalate, options might include an inpatient detox treatment centre, an alcohol rehab, a boot-camp program or youth home, or staying with a relative or friend for a defined period of time under strict rules. More extreme possibilities may need to be considered, such as making your son a ward of the court or even turning him over to the police if criminal activity is involved. He has to face the consequences of his behaviour before he will be motivated to change.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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