An alcoholic parent doesn’t just affect their children and partner, they can affect the entire family dynamic and cause ripples that affect loved ones even outside of the family home.

For those who must manage and live with an alcoholic parent, whether they are an adult or a child, there are certain things that can make the living situation bearable. Read our tips for living with an alcoholic parent below.


What Are the Signs of an Alcoholic Parent?

Before you can investigate steps to take in dealing with an alcoholic parent, you need to be sure that what you are dealing with is alcoholism and not something else. Alcohol addiction looks different for every person that it affects, but alcoholics tend to present certain symptoms and behaviours which can help you decipher if you have an alcoholic parent.

Some signs of an alcoholic parent include:

  • They are unable to stop drinking once they have started a drinking session.
  • Drinking more frequently or commonly.
  • Being defensive when approached about their drinking.
  • Having accidents and health problems related to drinking that still doesn’t stop them from drinking.
  • They experience withdrawal symptoms when they don’t consume alcohol.
  • Letting family commitments down.
  • Losing jobs or neglecting job responsibilities (check out our blog on whether you can be fired for substance misuse).

However, even if these symptoms of alcohol addiction are not evident, this does not mean that your parent doesn’t have a drinking problem. Many long-time drinkers can be high-functioning alcoholics, where they successfully maintain a career and good relationships with friends and family but experience alcohol abuse at home.

For the families and children of alcoholic parents, there are some symptoms that only you will see that indicate a problem and these include:

  • Drinking specific drinks at certain times and in specific situations and often feeling panicked if they cannot conform to this ritual.
  • Requiring family members to cover for them because of their addiction, such as calling in sick to work or lending them money.
  • Missing events in favour of drinking.


Advice for Children Living with an Alcoholic Parent

For children and young people, living with an alcoholic parent is a struggle that most people couldn’t even imagine. Often children feel that they are forced into the role of caregiver with their alcoholic parent, as well as for any younger siblings, which affects their wellbeing and ability to focus on other important things, such as school.

If you are a child living with an alcoholic parent, the most important thing for you to remember is that you and your siblings are in no way at fault for your parent’s drinking. Even if you feel that you are or your parent says so when they are drunk. Alcoholism is an illness that can happen to anybody.

It is important that you reach out and get support for your parent from family so that you aren’t trying to deal with this on your own. It doesn’t have to be a professional person that you speak to, like a teacher or a doctor, just speak to someone you trust and let them know what is going on at home. They can then do what is necessary to get your parent the help that they need.

Living with an alcoholic parent can be extremely difficult, so reaching out for support is the best way to manage it. If you are a child under 18, we recommend speaking to other family members so they can organise treatment or support for you.


Tips for Adults Living with Alcoholic Parents

If you are over the age of 18, living with an alcoholic parent can really damage your relationship. We recommend that you get your parent the help that they need with their addiction as soon as possible.

Speak with other family members, friends, and loved ones – Opening up to family can help you to process your emotions.

Hold an alcohol intervention – This involves confronting your parent and ask them to go to their GP or rehab, or you can speak with a rehab centre and get advice on how to admit them.

Build a support network – Having a group of people you can discuss your feelings with is a great way to cope with living with an alcoholic parent. You can also ask for support to help you get your parent into rehab.

Take time out for yourself – Getting yourself out of the house to have some alone time can help you cope with alcoholic parents. It can feel overwhelming to manage alcoholics, so taking mindfulness walks or having a hobby can benefit your mental health.

Attend a support group for children of alcoholics – These groups exist for family members affected by loved one’s addictions and can be extremely beneficial for young people and children of alcoholics. Family support groups include Adfam, Families Anonymous and Al-Anon.


Alcoholic parent

How to Live with an Alcoholic Parent

Knowing how to live with an alcoholic parent can greatly improve your wellbeing and the relationship you have with them. By following the above tips, you can manage your own emotions and find ways to relieve any stress you experience.

Although you may be worried about their health, you need to look after yourself too. A key way to live with an alcoholic parent is by looking after your wellbeing as well as managing theirs. Getting in touch with professionals is then the next step to getting their life back on track.


Seek Professional Rehab Treatment for an Alcoholic Parent

Ocean Recovery Centre offers a residential rehabilitation programme that will help your loved one to get sober and healthy long-term. The effects of living with an alcoholic parent can be massive and have a deep impact on your relationship and life. This is why it is key to seek recovery and support them towards sobriety with outside help.

Our alcohol rehab can help people suffering from addiction of all ages. From the first stages of alcohol detox to treatments and aftercare, we can help your parent overcome alcoholism.

We can also give advice and help you to prepare to speak to your parent about their addiction. Call 0800 880 7596, or text HELP to 83222 to find out more.


John Gillen - Author - Last updated: October 10, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.