“My mom is addicted to alcohol.” These words are bound to bring up intense emotions — regret, fear, anger, shame. Your next thoughts may be a string of questions. “What do I do?” “How do I help her?”
There’s no guidebook to surviving a loved one’s addiction. This insidious disease robs families of normal, maternal love, destroys trust and can change your mom into a dangerous stranger. Whether she has struggled with alcohol misuse for as long as you can remember or it’s a new and troubling development, your mother needs help. Yet, how can you deal with a mother who is addicted to alcohol? How can you help this woman you love reclaim her life?
Understanding is the first step to giving your mom the help she needs. If you can understand how this disease has impacted her life and your family, you can point her towards recovery.
Does My Mother Have an Alcohol Addiction?
If you are wondering if your mom has a drinking problem, chances are she does. Here are some of the signs that can help you confirm whether your mom has an addiction to alcohol:
- You find empty bottles lying around the house.
- She has several stashes of alcohol.
- She uses alcohol to cope with stressful situations.
- She drinks in secret or alone.
- She can’t seem to control how often or how much she drinks.
- She knows her alcohol consumption is hurting her relationship with you and others, yet she doesn’t quit.
- She has physical and emotional symptoms when she stops drinking, like sweating, shaking, irritability and anxiety.
- Her life revolves around her next drink.
Why Does My Mom Drink?
Alcohol addiction is different for each person, so it’s difficult to know for sure why your mom drinks. In general, it begins as a coping mechanism to deal with stress, mental illness or past trauma. It may be that your mom started as a social drinker, and she liked the way drinking made her feel.
However it began, alcohol use disorder is a chronic disease. This substance changes the way your mother’s body and brain respond to alcohol until she’s unable to control her drinking because of physical and emotional dependence. If she’s tried to stop, she may have encountered painful withdrawal symptoms that make quitting feel like too much to bear.
How Can I Help With My Mother’s Alcohol Dependence?
Unhealthy alcohol use puts your mom’s health and safety at risk. Whether it’s driving to work under the influence or the many alcohol-related disorders associated with long-term misuse, alcohol addiction often ends tragically. Recovery will give your mom a chance at a fuller, healthier life and give you an opportunity to restore your relationship.
In the end, it’s your mom who has to decide to recover. You can’t make the choice for her. However, here are a few tips for how to talk to your mom about her condition:
- Keep it casual. The point is not to win an argument. It’s to let your mom know that you love her and are concerned about her drinking.
- Wait for the right time. Don’t initiate the conversation when your mom has been drinking or if emotions are running high on either side.
- Come prepared. Point out specific instances that you’ve observed that concern you. You may also want to point out how her drinking has impacted you.
- Remember, conversations go two ways. Allow your mom to share how she feels. Ask open-ended questions so that she can share her thoughts. This will help keep her from feeling cornered.
- Keep to the main point. Don’t get sidetracked by asking for explanations or expressing your own hurt and frustrations.
Denial is common. Many people with alcohol use disorder get angry or defensive. Your mom probably knows that things aren’t right with her drinking, but she doesn’t want to admit it. At this point, an intervention from you and other loved ones may help your mom recognize and accept that she needs professional help.
Treatment for Mothers Struggling With Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol use disorder isn’t a one-person disease. It affects everyone, especially children of those with this disorder. Getting your mom the help she needs is the only way she can break free from addiction. At Gateway Foundation, we specialize in treating alcohol addiction through a combination of evidence-based treatments. For over 50 years, we’ve helped restore lives and seen families reclaim what’s been stolen by addiction.
If you would like to learn more about our safe and effective treatment for alcohol use disorder, contact us today. Our compassionate team would be happy to offer advice on how to approach your mom about her drinking.