Parents and alcohol

Lots of people drink alcohol. Which can be fine in sensible amounts. But drinking too much can cause lots of problems. It can affect your life if a parent or someone close to you is drinking too much but we can help.

drinking too much

Signs that someone you care about is drinking too much can be hard to spot if you don't know what to look for.

It's ok...
If someone occasionally drinks to relax when it doesn't change the way they behave. A lot of people like to do this.

It's not ok...
If someone is unable to control how much alcohol they have. If they're drinking too much and change how they behave when they drink, then this isn't ok.

5 things you should know:

  • it's not your fault if your parents drink
  • you don't have to keep their drinking a secret
  • it's not down to you to stop their drinking
  • you have the right to feel safe and loved at home
  • you can get support.

what's a drinking problem?

If someone's drinking too much and they're not able to stop, they may have a drinking problem. 

This is called alcoholism. Alcoholics can also lose control over how they act when they're drunk.

Doctors don't know all the reasons why some people have drinking problems. Some people start out drinking a little and end up addicted to alcohol. And some might start drinking after something bad happens.

Whatever the reason, it's not ok and they should get help.

Someone might drink to:

  • forget about problems
  • deal with stress
  • cope with feeling upset
  • feel better about themselves
  • join in with what other people are doing.

No matter what your parents' reasons are for drinking, you deserve support.

It's not your fault

It can be scary if you live with a parent or carer who drinks too much alcohol. It might make you feel worried and confused. Or you might feel let down, or even neglected.

It can sometimes feel embarrassing or like you want to drink a lot as well. You might feel like you have to take care of your parents when they drink too much. Or you might end up looking after your brothers or sisters because your parents can't.

It's important to know it's not your fault. And you can get help.

What you can do

Alcoholism is an illness, so alcoholics usually need medical treatment or professional help to stop drinking. They could get this help from a doctor or therapist.

Someone with a drink problem might pretend everything's okay, and say that they don't need any help. So sometimes this can be difficult to talk about. You could try signing up for a locker to use our mood journal to record how it makes you feel.

Remember, you don't have to cope on your own. Find some simple steps below:

what happens if you tell someone?

Speaking to someone about your parent, carer or friend's alcohol problem doesn't always mean that you'll be taken into care. Or that you'll get them in trouble.

Telling someone can mean they get the help they need.

The police and social services are there to protect you and get them the support they need to get better.

Every situation is different, but they'll only put you in care if they think it's too dangerous for you to live at home. If you’re worried about talking to someone, you can always speak to a Childline counsellor.

You might be worried about what could happen. But it's important your parents get the help they need.

Sally's Story

looking after yourself

When you're worried or affected by someone else's drinking it can be hard to remember to take care of yourself. But no matter what's happening there are ways to cope:

  • Plan some time just for you – it could be playing a game, seeing your friends or doing sports.
  • Don't keep it in – write down how you feel or let feelings out with the Art box.
  • Speak to someone you trust if you need something – this this could be your parents, an adult you feel safe with or Childline.