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Addiction to Alcohol/I suspect my son is an alcoholic


I need help, not sure where to go, what to do, I believe my son is an alcoholic, he denies it, but I see a pattern of destruction from just after he got out of High School to present.  He is currently separated from his wife and child, and she is claims to have filed for divorce, he is not handling this well at all.  Constantly says he "doesn't care", sleeps a lot, is easily angered and vocally abusive.  He's in financial trouble, I've helped him stabilize his living situation, but see it slipping away.  I'm not sure if alcohol is the main issue or a symptom.  Who should I turn to?  What can be done before he does permanent damage to himself of someone else?

    Thank you for your question.  It would appear that the subject has been broached with him - in other words, alcoholism has been spoken.  You do describe some very important elements of his behaviors that may signal a problem.
    Keep in mind only the individual can say that they are or aren't an alcoholic.  That is important, too, because if they are, they need to be able to state that emphatically as their truth.  The key is whether or not they will ever reach that point.  Many a person has gotten stuck at this very point and not been able to beat the alcoholic life.
   What can you do?  Well, broach the subject again and emphasize that he should entertain seeing a counselor as soon as possible to have some professional help guiding him through these things.  Second, you may have enabled the behavior by bailing him out of tough times.  Although you say you have stabilized his living situation, he needs to hear that there is a limit to what you will do for him.  He is an adult and needs to demonstrate maturity and responsibility.
   Alcoholism robs a person of two very precious things - self-esteem and maturity.  We succumb to the drink thinking it is doing something for us when all it is really doing is masking the main issues of our lives that are causing pain and troubles.  It drags down our own self-worth and we are caught in its downward spiral.  Emotional and mental maturity stop during our drinking days and until we get free of the drink our minds are not clear enough to have maturity resume - we say we have "stunted" our maturity.
   None of this offers a quick fix.  It will take a while even if he were to come to his senses today.  We say that there is a long road of reconstruction ahead but if we are to get back on the right track we have to begin at some point.
   I hope he may be close enough to his bottom by losing all these things that he can be at least a little interested in seeking out some help.  But he must reach his own bottom.  You and I do not know where or when that may be.  This is where the concept of "tough love" comes in - he either sinks or swims on his own.  And he may sink.
   Lastly, I can suggest that you get a copy of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, and see if he will read it.  It will give him good insight into himself and maybe offer him the hope he needs to get honest with himself.
   I hope this may have helped and write again if I may be of any further help.
Grace and peace,

Addiction to Alcohol

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I can answer questions on the recovery from alcohol addiction as I am a recovering alcoholic with 24 years of sobriety. I can also address the spiritual aspects of the 12-Step program as I have a Master of Divinity degree; serve as a pastor in the Quaker church; and, serve as a hospice chaplain. I have also served as a prison chaplain for one year and currently volunteer as a mentor once a week, working with two inmates one-on-one as they work towards reentry into society as free persons.


I am a recovering alcoholic with 24 years of continuous sobriety.

Master of Divinity awarded in 2000 from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

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