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How to deal with a alcoholic retired father

answered 06:08 PM EST, Mon November 21, 2011
My dad was always kind of a heavy drinker but he kept it under control while he was working, but since he retired a couple of years ago he’s really gone crazy with the booze and now he starts drinking in the morning and he’s drunk pretty much all day long. He lives with my family in a small guest house out back, so we are front row spectators to what he gets up to every day.

I love him and he has always been very good to me and this is very hard for me to watch, and sometimes when he gets drunk he becomes quite belligerent and difficult to deal with. I am at my wits end with him and I don’t know what to do. A friend of mine recommended I check out alanon as a group that might be good for support, but when I looked at it I saw that it is all about surrendering to a god and powerlessness. I don’t believe in god and I am not looking for any kind of group that will tell me what I can’t do to make things better, I want to find a group of people who will help me to actually make things better.

Are there any other groups that operate as support for family members of alcoholics that do not operate on this faith based 12 step model?

Ari Hahn Says...

The purpose of Alanon is to help you understand when you are engaging in co-dependant behavior. Since this type of behavior is usually a result of your love of the addict it is very hard to detect on yourself and even harder to change. There are very few groups that can do this as well. While most 12 step programs are based on some concept of a higher power, not all of them are God based. If you live in a big city you can find an alternative group. If you live in a place where there are not many groups it might be difficult to find one that fits your style. In rural areas you might need to use the group for what they are good for and realize that the idea of some sort of higher power can be the way your own concept is.

More importantly, your father may not want to change his behavior, especially if you are inadvertantly supporting him. I do not know the man, but it could be that he has been waiting many years to have a rent free place, food enouigh not to starve so he can spend most of his time in a stupor. (Of course, I am painting an exagerated picture, but it is at least possible.) That means that you would have to explore how to change his environment to the point that it is too uncomfortable for him to be drunk most of the time. It is ery difficult to do that on your own because it most likely would involve some very difficult and painful decisions. You might need to talk to an addictions specialist.

In short, search you area for alternative Alanon group. If there is none, see if you can work with them and be clear about how. If not, find an addictions specialist and focus on co-depedency issues.

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Page last updated Nov 21, 2011

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