Last Updated on April 22, 2021
If your mom struggles with drinking, it has a major impact on you as well. You may find yourself constantly worrying about your mother’s health, or wishing she could be fully present with you without the influence of alcohol. At the same time, you might feel helpless. How can you stop your mom from drinking? What can you do when your mom is an alcoholic?
Below, we’ll discuss how to talk to your mom about her drinking, what treatment options you can suggest, and the best ways to support her toward recovery. We’ll also discuss how to take care of yourself. It’s essential to remember that your mom’s drinking is not your fault or your responsibility. You can share your concerns and offer solutions and support, but the rest is up to her.
Tips for Talking to an Alcoholic
Starting a conversation about alcohol abuse isn’t easy, and it can feel especially tricky when you want to confront an alcoholic parent. The first step is to find a good time to have the conversation. Choose a time when your mother is sober and distractions are limited, so you won’t feel rushed. Make sure you’re composed and prepared to approach the conversation calmly.
When you’re ready to talk, lead with empathy and concern. If your mom feels judged or attacked, she’s more likely to shut down the conversation or dismiss what you’re saying. Try sticking to simple, honest facts about how your mom’s drinking is impacting you and why you’re concerned.
It’s helpful to use “I” statements1. For example, you can say, “I feel worried about how much you’re drinking,” instead of, “You’re drinking way too much.” Since “I” statements can feel strange at first, you might want to think about or practice what you’d like to say ahead of time.
Still, no matter how well you handle the conversation, there’s no guarantee that your mother will be willing to listen. You can plant a seed by sharing your concerns, but you can’t force it to take root. Either way, you’ll feel better knowing you brought it up.
Know Your Treatment Options
If your mom is willing to change her relationship with alcohol, the next step is to help find a treatment option that works for her.
These options include:
- Inpatient rehab
- Outpatient rehab
Every person is different, and will respond best to different approaches. Most rehab programs (and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings) rely on an abstinence-only approach. This means people are asked to give up alcohol completely.
This approach is sometimes best for people who are extremely dependent on alcohol, or who have serious alcohol-related illnesses. But many people find it too restrictive. When they aren’t able to remain 100 percent alcohol-free, they feel ashamed, often giving up and spiraling into a full relapse.
Moderation is another option. With a moderation-based approach, people cut back on their drinking without stopping entirely. They learn to control their relationship with alcohol instead of letting alcohol control them. Often, this is achieved through a combination of support groups and anti-craving medications.
If inpatient or outpatient rehab is too expensive or disruptive for your mom, she might be willing to consider telemedicine. Telemedicine is a more modern approach that allows people to access recovery coaching, support groups, and anti-craving medications from a smartphone app. Your mom wouldn’t have to leave home or make any significant changes to her schedule to get the help she needed.
In summary, there are more options than ever before to help people like your mom cut back or quit drinking. If your mother seems willing to listen, let her know that she has a lot of choices available—all with varying levels of cost and time commitment. With so many options, you’re bound to find one that’s a good fit.
How to Support Your Mom During Recovery
It’s a huge first step if your mom agrees to seek support for problem drinking. Still, recovery is an ongoing process, and she will need plenty of encouragement.
Here are a few ways you can support your mother throughout the recovery process:
- Learn as much as you can about addiction and recovery.
- Find fun, alcohol-free activities that you can do together.
- Understand that she may need some extra time and space to focus on her recovery and healing.
- Avoid bringing up past issues related to her drinking. If you need to vent, talk to a trusted friend or a professional, or write in a journal.
- Notice positive changes and be encouraging about your mom’s progress.
It’s important to note, however, that taking too much responsibility for your mom’s journey can have a negative impact on both of you. Be caring, supportive, and empathetic, but remember that your mom’s recovery is up to her.
Loving someone with a drinking problem, especially a parent, can be stressful, draining, and sometimes even damaging. The best thing you can do for both your mother and yourself is to prioritize your own well-being.
Consider joining a support group for friends and family members of alcoholics, or join an online community for children of alcoholic parents. You can also talk about your feelings with close friends or a professional counselor.
Make time for activities that help you feel happy and relaxed, like yoga, painting, dancing, going for walks, writing in a journal, running, reading, or whatever it is that you find most enjoyable. Spend time outdoors, grab lunch with friends, and remember that you have other relationships and hobbies to bring you joy.
And finally, remember that when you take care of your physical health, your emotional and mental health improves too. Exercise regularly, eat nutritious meals, and get plenty of sleep. Your mom’s drinking is beyond your control, but you can take care of your own health and happiness.
How Ria Health Can Help
If your mom is ready to change her relationship with alcohol, Ria Health is a modern, convenient, and evidence-based solution accessible through a smartphone app. Whether your mom wants to quit or cut back, we’ll provide recovery coaching, anti-craving medication, online support groups, tracking tools, and more. We also offer support for friends and family like you through our app.