For Families With An Alcoholic Father

How to Help an Alcoholic Family Member

For Families With An Alcoholic Father

When a family realizes that one of their members’ “drinking problem” is actually alcoholism, this is a big step forward in handling the situation.

Perhaps a “drinking problem” is something you talk to a person about, you ask them to improve their behavior for their own good. You suggest they cut back, not go out to bars as often. Then you wait to see what happens. And hope.

But alcoholism, by definition, is a very different matter.

When there is no improvement over time, then family members—it could be a wife, a father, a brother or children—realize that the problem is really alcohol addiction. That is a problem that requires a deeper kind of help.

When a person is an alcoholic, they are control of their drinking. When they have a glass of alcohol, they have to finish it. When there is a bottle of alcohol, it must be emptied. When a person is truly an alcoholic and they have already been given chances to stop on their own, then it is not time for more chances. It is time for an alcohol rehabilitation program.

How can family members help a person who is control of their drinking?

Stop hiding the problem. If you have been keeping it a secret, stop doing so. Tell other close family members, the family doctor, your family priest or minister, others in a good position to provide real help and support. If everyone close to the scene or who can provide real help knows about it, then the problem can be faced.

  • Assemble support. Plan to talk to the alcohol-addicted person with whichever family members they respect the most and who can be the calmest.
  • Don’t try to talk to the person when he or she has been drinking or when they are highly stressed. Find a time when they are sober and as untroubled as possible. For most drinkers, this is early in the day.
  • As a calm, non-accusative team, confront the person with the damage being caused to the person, the family and other areas (job, business, finance, community, career) by the drinking. Be specific but as patient and uncritical as you can be. However, do not back down or sympathize.
  • If this is the first time you have confronted the alcoholic on their behavior, then you can consider whether or not to give them a chance to quit drinking on their own. If the drinking has gone on for some years, it is practically certain that the body of the alcoholic will be so addicted to alcohol that the person will be unable to quit on their own.
  • If the person has already been given a chance to quit and has failed and perhaps also provided plenty of excuses as to their failure, then this is the time to talk about an alcohol rehab facility.
  • If the alcoholic refuses to talk about going to rehab, the family will have to agree on the next steps to take. They may include refusing to bail the person legal, financial, professional or personal problems. If the person has been being housed for free, the family may have to agree to refuse to provide this support if there’s no trip to rehab.
  • If these steps fail, then consider if there is someone else that the alcoholic considers an authority. See if that person can help convince the alcoholic to seek help.
  • If all these steps fail, the next step the family should take is to contact an interventionist with experience working with an addicted person. Bring the interventionist in and give him or her all the help they request, to get your loved one to agree to get help.

These steps all lead up to one thing: The arrival of the addicted person at an alcohol recovery program. Alcoholism cannot be treated at home. It is best treated at a facility where the addicted person cannot get their hands on alcohol, where they have 24-hour supervision.

The Narconon Alcohol Recovery Program

In over 30 locations around the world, the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program helps alcoholics recovery a lasting sobriety. The Narconon program offers much more than just an environment where a person learns to discipline themselves to not drink. At a Narconon drug and alcohol recovery center, alcoholics have a chance to really handle the causes of their addiction.

Narconon centers have interventionists they work with to help bring in a person who needs alcohol rehab to save their life. Contact Narconon to find an interventionist who can help in your area.

Starting on the Road to Recovery

Recovery starts with remedying the poor nutritional state of most alcoholics. When a recovering person starts receiving calming minerals and vitamins to replace those destroyed by alcohol abuse, they start feeling healthier and even hopeful that recovery is possible.

Recovery then moves on to the next phase: helping the addict flush out all the residual alcohol and drug toxins that become lodged in the fatty tissues of the body. Normal measures eating well or just taking vitamins do not cause this type of detoxification.

The Narconon New Life Detoxification is a precisely controlled program of nutrition including healthy oils, vitamins and minerals, plus exercise and a dry heat sauna.

The synergistic effect of these factors creates an environment in which the body can flush old toxins that have been shown to be involved in triggering cravings.

When detoxification is complete, the former alcoholic normally feels he or she has taken a large step forward in their recovery. They normally feel younger, fresher and more alert.

With these improvements in hand, they can proceed with counseling and life skills training to restore the integrity and good sense that will keep them alcohol-free for a lifetime.

Contact Narconon to find an alcohol rehabilitation center near you today.

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How to Help An Alcoholic Family Member or Relative?

For Families With An Alcoholic Father

It's not easy to figure out how to help an alcoholic family member.  Helping an alcoholic isn't easy, especially somebody that you love deeply.

Your family member might not be ready to change yet or may slip back into drinking often despite sincere promises to change. Fortunately, you don't have to help your alcoholic relatives alone.

Consider calling us to get help dealing with an alcoholic family member's addiction.

What To Do If A Relative Drinks Too Much

If your husband, child or other loved one drinks too much, he might not realize he has a problem. He has to realize that he is alcoholic in his own time; however, there are several things you can do to help him come to that realization more quickly.

  • Don't hide the problem from other family members or friends. Relatives of alcoholics are often embarrassed by the alcoholic's behavior. They may avoid social occasions because they don't want to answer questions about the alcoholic's absence or because the alcoholic family member drinks too much and acts inappropriately. However, hiding the alcoholic's problem doesn't help anybody. The alcoholic's behavior is her responsibility; allow her to feel ashamed when she sobers up or experience consequences for her behavior such as not being invited to the next party.  Remember that the more you allow the alcoholic to experience negative consequences for her drinking, the more ly she is to want to change her behavior.
  • Talk to the alcoholic about her drinking only when everyone is sober and calm. Talking to the alcoholic when he is drunk is a waste of breath. He can't rationally process what you say and may become defensive or angry. Similarly, if you're angry or judgmental when talking about drinking, the alcoholic may shut down and refuse to hear what you say. Try to come from a position of love and concern rather than judgment or anger when talking about drinking. For example, say things , “I notice you drink five or six beers every time we go out and I'm concerned that you may be addicted,” rather than, “You got drunk again last night. You have to stop drinking.”
  • Set firm boundaries and stick to them. While you can't directly stop the alcoholic from drinking, you can protect yourself from negative consequences of her behavior. Setting these limits can also help the alcoholic to decide she wants to stop drinking. Boundaries differ from person to person and should be protecting yourself from unwanted consequences of someone else's behavior, not on punishing the person for drinking. For example, some families may choose to allow an alcoholic to stay in jail following an arrest related to drinking or may refuse to speak to the alcoholic on the phone or let him in the house when he is drunk.
  • Seek help for yourself. Although only the alcoholic can decide to stop drinking, alcoholism affects everyone in the family. Counseling or therapy can help you differentiate between behaviors you have control over and behaviors you don't, give you a greater understanding of why the alcoholic acts the way he does, resolve negative feelings related to the alcoholic's drinking and figure out strategies for handling it when the alcoholic behaves in negative ways. The more you focus on yourself and getting yourself healthy, the more ly the alcoholic is to want to get healthy too. When you focus too much on the alcoholic, he can easily divert his attention to what you're doing, but if you're focusing on yourself he's forced to face his own behavior.

Available Treatment for Alcoholic Family Member

If your family member is an alcoholic who hasn't yet admitted he has a problem or asked for help, you can still get treatment for yourself. Counseling and therapy are excellent treatment choices.

In addition, there's a 12-step group for friends and family members of alcoholics. Just as some alcoholics benefit from going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, you might benefit from going to Al-Anon meetings.

Al-Anon provides a variety of meetings where friends and family members of alcoholics can share their experiences and get support from one another.

Once your family member is ready to seek help for himself, there are a wide variety of treatment options available to him. Some people do well in rehabilitation facilities.

These treatment centers require alcoholics to live at the center and interact with other people who are struggling with alcohol abuse. The alcoholic and his family may both benefit from therapy and counseling during treatment.

Other alcoholics prefer an outpatient program, where they continue to live at home and go to work or school while going to a hospital or rehab center for treatment.

Regardless of the type of treatment an alcoholic opts for, she must be ready to change before the treatment will be effective.

If you're not sure how to help an alcoholic family member see that she needs help, consider calling us to get the help you need for yourself or your family.

Call today to take charge of your life again instead of feeling you're a victim of someone else's alcohol problem.

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What I Learned from Having a Father with Alcoholism

For Families With An Alcoholic Father

Health and wellness touch everyone’s life differently. This is one person’s story.

I heard mumbling coming from the first-floor master bathroom and wandered in to find him nearly unconscious with three empty handles of gin tossed into the gigantic Jacuzzi tub. I lifted him up from the bathroom floor, looked into his bloodshot eyes, and inhaled the sharp odor of gin. He started crying and saying things I — his 14-year-old daughter — shouldn’t hear.

I thought that I could fix my father — in the movies, when the character you love is about to die and there’s a dramatic scene right before the bad guy surrenders. In the end, everyone lives happily ever after. I however was definitely starring in a different movie.

That January, I was returning from boarding school, unaware of and unprepared for the changes that awaited me at home. I discovered my father was an alcoholic, and my mother was battling the emotional turmoil of our family crisis. That may have been the first time I felt completely useless — a feeling a parent should never make their child feel.

Fast-forward a few years later, while I was away at college, finishing lunch with my friends, when my mom called.

“Dad passed away this morning,” she said.

I collapsed on the sidewalk. My friends had to carry me back to my dorm room.

Having a parent with alcoholism can be endless disappointment. Even in their darkest moments, they’re still your hero. You still love them for who they are. You know it’s not really “them” — it’s the alcohol, and you’re hopeful the horrors will all end soon. That hopeful ending is what keeps you going, even when the process is confusing and distracting and sad.

In the years of growing up with and without a father who drank and wondering if alcoholism defined “me,” I’ve learned a few things, often the hard way. These mottos, which I live by now, all resulted in a better, healthier “me.”

1. Don’t compare your life to others

Constant comparison isn’t just a thief of joy. It also limits what we think our capabilities are as an evolving person. You’re constantly wondering why your home life isn’t others, something you shouldn’t have to focus on as a kid.

2. Be the bigger person

It’s easy to set your default emotions to being bitter when life feels “unfair,” but life isn’t about what’s fair. You might feel you’re being duped because the person you care about isn’t doing what’s obviously right, but getting worked up about these choices won’t affect the other person. It only affects you.

Take a deep breath and remember to be kind. Hate never wins, so love them through their troubles. Hopefully they’ll come around on their own. That’s how alcohol recovery works — the person needs to want it. If they don’t come around, at least you’ll be at peace with yourself. It would suck to stoop to their level and have it backfire.

3. You are not their addiction

In high school, I struggled with the idea that I’d become a certain person because alcoholism was in my blood. And while genetics have proven to be a huge factor for addiction, it doesn’t define you.

I was a mess from excessive partying and drug abuse. I treated people horribly, but I wasn’t really “me.” Today, I’m nowhere near that person now, mainly because I gave my lifestyle a total makeover. Once I rid my thoughts of believing that alcoholism defined who I was, there was a shift in my overall being.

4. Practice forgiveness

I learned this early on, mainly from attending Sunday school at church: In order to free yourself of hateful thoughts, you have to treat others the way you want to be treated. I’m guessing if you really messed up, you’d want to be forgiven, too.

5. Don’t enable

There’s a big difference between being compassionate and being a crutch. It’s hard work to emotionally support and uplift another without draining yourself. That “emotional support” they might need may be disguised as doing a simple favor, but it could end up contributing to the problem — especially if it gives others an excuse to continue bad behavior.

6. Love

Just be loving to everyone, always, includingyourself.

7. Avoid drinking and parenting at the same time

Don’t let this happen. Kids know everything. They see you every day and are constantly observing. They’re innocent and vulnerable and unconditionally loving and will pick up on (and forgive you for) any behavior — good or bad. Set the most insanely loving, nurturing, honorable example you can, all the time.

Children need to see gratitude, especially in the hardest of times. It’s from this that they learn, and they’ll teach their own children the gratitude, thoughtfulness, and love they’ve observed — not necessarily what we think we’ve taught them.

So be gracious. Be thoughtful. Be good.

Lifestyle and mom blogger Samantha Eason was born and raised in Wellesley, Massachusetts, but currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and son Isaac (aka Chunk).

She uses her platform, Mother of Chunk, to fuse together her passions for photography, motherhood, food, and clean living. Her website is an uncensored space that covers life, both the beautiful and the not so beautiful.

To tune into what Sammy and Chunk get into daily, follow her on Instagram.

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Effects of Alcoholism on Families

For Families With An Alcoholic Father

The effects of alcoholism on families can cause more damage and pain than any other internal or external influence on the family unit. The impact of the drinker’s abuse or addiction is usually manifested differently with each member of the family and has long-term implications.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that more than one-half of adults in the U.S. have a close family member who has abused alcohol or is addicted to the drug.

Children of Parents who Drink

Unborn Babies: Women who drink during pregnancy pass the drug to their unborn children each time they consume alcohol. Maternal drinking causes babies to be born with irreversible physical and mental birth defects.

This condition is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and these children grow up with facial abnormalities, growth retardation and brain damage that inhibits their ability to live normal lives.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, severe damage from FAS affects around 5000 babies every year; additionally 35000 babies are born with milder damage from FAS.

Children: Children who are born without birth defects and live with a father and/or mother who is an alcohol abuser or addict experience severe effects that may include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of guilt and despair
  • Loneliness and fear of abandonment
  • Chronic depression
  • High levels of anxiety and stress

They may believe that their parent’s drinking is their fault and frequently cry, have nightmares and wet their beds. Once they get older, children may not easily make friends. They may hoard things, develop phobias or exhibit perfectionist traits.

Through the effects of alcoholism on families, children often feel they are different that other people and develop a poor self-image that they carry throughout life.

They have difficulties in school and establishing relationships with friends and teachers. And fewer children of alcoholics go to college compared to the national average.

In addition, living in an alcoholic family also suggests that children are more susceptible to child abuse, including incest and battery.

Adult Children of Alcoholics: Once children become adults, the effects of alcoholism on families continue to impact their lives. They experience difficulties trusting others and have relationship issues.

Depression is common, as is anxiety, aggression and impulsive behavior. Adult children of alcoholics continue having a negative self-image, which causes them to make poor choices and accumulate failures in their work, social and family lives.

Speak with an Addiction Specialist

Call 877-322-2694

24/7 Helpline

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24/7 Helpline

Spouse or Partner

Alcoholism has a transforming effect on the spouse or partner that can create significant mental trauma and physical health problems. Divorce rates among couples where one or both partners drinks is much higher than average.

As alcohol abuse or addiction progresses, the non-drinking spouse often grows into a compulsive care-taking role, which creates feelings of resentment, self-pity and exhaustion. The marriage suffers from:

  • Poor spousal communication
  • Increased anger and distress
  • Reduced intimacy and sexual desire
  • Increased marital abuse
  • Depleting finances spent on alcohol

Often the spouse and children become codependent, as one of the effects of alcoholism in families. Codependents, who are also referred to as enablers, further the alcoholic’s drinking problem by trying to protect them and keep them trouble.

This may include telling an employer a lie about why the individual didn’t come to work, telling friends stories to explain the alcoholic’s behavior, or handling a responsibility that should have been taken care of by the drinker.

Codependents make the problem worse by permitting the drinking to continue.

Effects of Alcoholism on Families … Is there Help?

Treating alcoholic families is difficult and complex. Often treatment is not entirely successful for family members, even when the alcohol abuser or addict eventually reforms.

The effects of alcoholism in families are difficult to overcome; yet without treatment, they can be devastating for the long-term. With the right approach and support, positive steps can be taken to improve lives.

Healthcare professionals may recommend a multi-faceted treatment approach that includes group family therapy, as well as individualized treatment for each family member Treatment may take the form of one or more of the following:

  • Interventions
  • Out-Patient Programs
  • In-Patient Programs
  • Peer Support Groups
  • Psycho-Social Therapy
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment
Free Expert Advice Available Now

  • Speak with a treatment specialist 24/7
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Free Expert Advice Available Now

  • Speak with a treatment specialist 24/7
  • Privacy guaranteed
  • Discuss your treatment options



AllPsych Journal, Alcoholism and Its Effect on the Family by Tetyana Parsons, //

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, //

National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, // 

Related Information

Alcoholism Symptoms – List of signs and symptoms that are common to someone with a drinking problem.

Dealing With Alcoholism – Help preventing alcoholism. The key for most people is early education.

Alcoholism in the Family – Alcoholism can have life long implications for both the drinker and their families. Learn about the negative impact of an alcoholic family member on all of those affected.

Alcoholism and Youth – Information on underage drinking, the factors that contribute to it, health risks and prevention.

Al Anon – Information about Alanon, a self-help group for people who live with or are affected by an alcoholic. 

Support for Families of Alcoholics – Find out how alcoholism affects the family, especially the children of alcoholic parents. Resources for support of family members.

Return HOME from Effects of Alcoholism on Families

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A Letter About My Alcoholic Father

For Families With An Alcoholic Father

When I was thirteen years old, I spent my summer break at my cousin sister's place. She spilled steaming hot tea all over her thigh leaving a huge burn scar. The first thing my aunt said to her was “What would your future husband think about that scar? You should have been more careful.” My cousin was just fourteen.

Growing up, we are made to believe that marriage is the most important thing in a woman's life and is going to be her biggest achievement. I thought it was hideous how we were made to believe this and pressurized to get married in fear of what society would think until I realized just how hideous the process of an arranged marriage itself is.

According to an IPSOS survey conducted in 2013, 74% of Indian marriages are arranged. Being the youngest sibling and cousin, I watched a lot of my older family members and relatives getting arranged marriages. Having spent most of my life in India, I have witnessed no other marriages than arranged marriages.

It is funny to me how people have a checklist of superficial expectations stereotypical beauty standards and unrealistic salary expectations.

From publishing ads “In search of a slim, tall, fair, very beautiful, homely girl who knows how to cook and sew” in the newspaper, the process of finding a groom or bride through an arranged marriage couldn't be more misogynistic and sexist.

Surrounded by all this, I penned down a poem in hope that we would stop treating marriages business deals where the groom gets dowry in exchange for his willingness to marry and the bride gets a husband in exchange for dowry.


The glass bangles on her wrist jingled as she placed a plate of laddoos in front of the guests,

She wondered if this was the family that would finally pass her parents' tests.

“Oh! She is as fair as milk” the boy's mother exclaimed,

Her cheeks flushed to the color of scarlet under her dupatta as trained.

“He is too short” to her mother, he didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.


When no suitable match was found, the search was still profound.

“Hush,” the girl's mother whispered “Don't tell them about the burn on the leg of the bride”

“What man will marry her once he finds?”

Another man arrived, tall, fair, and handsome- he was perfect,

Except that huge mole on his cheek which left him imperfect.

“The mole doesn't complement his face” to her aunt, he didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.


Still no luck in finding a groom,

Her father placed a matrimonial ad.

“Searching for a suitable groom, engineer or doctor, 25, fair, slim, vegetarian, no disabilities” the ad read,

The ad was published in multiple newspapers so that she could finally be wed.

Another boy arrived, but this time the tables turned,

“What? She can't cook?” the boy's mother was left concerned

“Oh, what a shame” to his parents' she didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.


When everything had been tried, a Jyotish was consulted,

Vastu remedies for delay in marriage he suggested.

“Fast for sixteen consecutive days, the kitchen shouldn't be in the southwest.”

Yet another boy arrived, tall, fair, slim, no moles- he seemed the best,

With everything from their checklist of expectations checked, everyone seemed to be impressed.

“But his earnings are so less,” her father was left depressed.

To nobody he appealed,

The deal still wasn't sealed.


The number of grooms decreased as her age increased,

The girl walked in with a plate of laddoos, but this time from the southeast.

“Oh my god, the bride can't cook,” the boy's mother noticed,

Thankfully the burn on her leg went unnoticed.

Double the dowry was demanded,

Her father's savings made sure the groom's family didn't leave empty-handed,

The girl's mother approved the boy, so did her mother's mother,

And her uncle, his wife, and their daughter

Even to the distant relatives, he appealed,

The deal was finally sealed.

When I was thirteen years old, I spent my summer break at my cousin sister's place. She spilled steaming hot tea all over her thigh leaving a huge burn scar. The first thing my aunt said to her was “What would your future husband think about that scar? You should have been more careful.” My cousin was just fourteen.

Growing up, we are made to believe that marriage is the most important thing in a woman's life and is going to be her biggest achievement. I thought it was hideous how we were made to believe this and pressurized to get married in fear of what society would think until I realized just how hideous the process of an arranged marriage itself is.

According to an IPSOS survey conducted in 2013, 74% of Indian marriages are arranged. Being the youngest sibling and cousin, I watched a lot of my older family members and relatives getting arranged marriages. Having spent most of my life in India, I have witnessed no other marriages than arranged marriages.

It is funny to me how people have a checklist of superficial expectations stereotypical beauty standards and unrealistic salary expectations.

From publishing ads “In search of a slim, tall, fair, very beautiful, homely girl who knows how to cook and sew” in the newspaper, the process of finding a groom or bride through an arranged marriage couldn't be more misogynistic and sexist.

Surrounded by all this, I penned down a poem in hope that we would stop treating marriages business deals where the groom gets dowry in exchange for his willingness to marry and the bride gets a husband in exchange for dowry.

To The Girl Growing Up With An Abusive Alcoholic Dad

For Families With An Alcoholic Father

Growing up with an alcoholic father is a world filled with despair, damage, and hope. Here’s part one of two articles – on the pitfalls and precautions of growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father.

I stood peering under the bonnet while my perennially drunk dad sat in the driver’s seat, trying in vain to get the ignition going.

The car had just broken down post midnight in the middle of a deserted dirt road in the city’s outskirts. After several desperate attempts with the wires, something finally worked and the car roared back into life.

I’d tried some stop-gap fix on the wires that my cousin had taught me, which luckily saved the night.

Hugely relieved, I took a moment to look around before getting back in the car. Though this had been a first, something felt hugely familiar and ‘repeat-telecast’ about the situation, and I wondered what.

And then it hit me a brick – this was no one-off situation. The details may have been different but essentially I’d been ‘stop-gap fixing’ so many situations in so many ways, on so many days.

And everything was wrong with that particular situation, not just the stupid wires.

It needed more than another temporary fix. My life needed some real fixing – more than the stop-gap kind.  It was no longer about just getting through another day.

I suspected that life had set up this scene for me to finally read the writing on the wall – or in this case, the headlamp-lit dirt road ahead – that I could either continue practicing the art of temporary fixes day after day until I acquired a black belt in it, or I could go build myself a life that didn’t need those fixes.

A little common sense and a lot of self-worth made the choice obvious, but to build myself a life unaffected by him and his toxic impact was going to be a long arduous journey, and I’d only just started college and was still living with him.

I’m fully aware I had it way better than many and I was lucky the abuse was not physical but only verbal, but it did give me hell. And when I look back on it, the ‘only’ before ‘verbal’ seems misplaced. the song goes, words can be knives, and I may still have a few scars to show for it, and loads of scar tissue masking them.

To be fair, he wasn’t all bad all the time, and he did have his moments as a father. The way he packed my lunches back when I’d just started school, cutting sandwiches into suns, hills, and moons for my amusement.

His totally out-of-whack (and often wildly inappropriate) sense of humour. Or the mean egg curry he made most Sundays. But sadly his moments of niceness, being few and far between, only served to underscore his predominant negativity.

I learnt quickly, the way kids do, that any calm in the home only meant the storm was coming.

If I could rewind and meet my younger self today, I would sit her down, give her a warm hug, and tell her this…

Barrelling my way through those dark days would have been a lot easier for me if I had had someone to talk to, an empathetic voice of reason who would have perhaps told me all these things back then. If I could rewind and meet my younger self today, I would sit her down, give her a warm hug, and tell her this –

Yes, I’ve been there. I know how it feels. Of course it’s terrible, and you did nothing to deserve it. But you are awesome and one day, life will be too. Here’s what I wish I’d known when I was in your place:

In your own best interests, put as much distance as you can between him and youphysically, mentally, emotionally

At adolescence, you should be excitedly gearing up for the spring of your life, and having him wobbling around raining his negativity on you is not even the last thing you need.

Ideally, the adults in the family ought to arrange an intervention or somehow get him into rehab, but if that’s not happening for whatever reason, you shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of it. It’s NOT your homework and never was, so you shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of it not being done. Distance is key.

There’s no such thing as an ‘alcoholic father’

One can’t be a father (in the real/full sense of the word) and an addict simultaneously. ‘Alcoholic father’ is an oxymoron so blatant that we miss it. Being a father is challenging enough without throwing alcoholism into the mix.

For as long as he is addicted, he has no business even pretending to be a father.

If there were parenting licenses that needed to be obtained before one could go about ‘parenting’, his would’ve been revoked long ago – for ‘parenting under influence’, among other things.

A hard truth you’re going to have to face is that there is no father there, just a shadow of a father – and a wobbly one at that. Yes that is sad, not having a dad, but some of the biggest liberations come from the hardest truths, so it will be immensely freeing for you someday when you look that fact in its face and accept it.

You cannot make him quit drinking and it’s not your duty either

I cannot emphasize this enough. He may never quit the bottle and that has nothing to do with you. No part of that is under your control. Don’t take on that uphill battle.

There are way more productive uses for your valuable time and energy.

I was told by a lot of misguided adults in the family (and some even outside it!), in no uncertain terms, that it was me and only me who could make him quit.

I had some kind of anti-addiction superpower before I even had a college degree. Their “reasoning”, if you can call it that, was that he had some kind of special soft corner for his one little daughter.

Definitely news to me – where was it all this while then? How come that ‘soft corner’ didn’t keep him from becoming an alcoholic in the first place? Without realizing it, they were over-burdening my young shoulders by placing that kind of onus on me.

They even naively gave me the example of a movie (Daddy) where the daughter makes her dad mend his alcoholic ways. But life doesn’t follow a script, and certainly not a bollywood one.

 “You will not walk through my mind with your dirty feet” 

Quite the golden rule. Gandhi said it. Presumably way back. And I heard of it only last year – through an American writer on , of all things. I wish I’d heard it way back and tattooed it on my forearm. It would’ve pretty much been my slogan through all those years, perhaps slightly rephrased as ‘you will not wobble through my mind with your dirty drunk feet’.

Despite the good fight that I obstinately put up, I did end up internalizing at least some of his abusive words and negativity.

He became one of those niggling negative voices in my head, that basically downplayed every victory to its lowest interpretation and highlighted every tiny mistake it were a crime against humanity.

Until one day I just got beyond-bored of it and threw it out. And now when it tries to sneak in again, it’s the no-dirty-feet rule to the rescue.

The tricky place of hope in your approach to this life situation and how it matters (or not)

While hope is a great thing in many areas of life, it may not be so here. I was often conflicted – should I have held on to hopes on the father-daughter front, or am I better off and wiser in giving up on that hope altogether? (That I will ever have a real father-daughter relationship)

This one’s trickier than the others, and will probably haunt you for a while longer than all the other shadows cast by the situation. It may seem optimistic to ‘hope’ that he will mend his ways someday but it’s a hope that brings a lot of disappointment with it. A hope you’re better off without. ripping off a bandaid in one go versus slowly.

 Even the faintest ‘ray’ of hope can dictate your actions and cloud your judgment.

And it’s called hoping against hope – when you’re hoping for something very unly. Sometimes, it’s denial dressed as hope. Denial-fuelled hopes shackle you, while letting go of such hope pragmatically will set you free. Even the faintest ‘ray’ of hope can dictate your actions and cloud your judgment.

Instead, invest that energy into areas of your life that you have control over. Your talents, your mind, your friendships, your future career, your life. That way, his continued addiction every week/month/year won’t come as crushing disappointments to you, and on the slim chance that he does de-addict, then well …surprise!

For all the halo around hope, life isn’t an optimism contest. It’s more a betting game – you take chances, you win some, you lose some. When you win, you relish it for all it’s worth and when you lose, cut your losses and move on. So when you’ve been dealt a poor hand, come to terms with it, own it, and go on to play that poor hand as well as you can.

Know this: Your life will be great, and that will have nothing to do with him and everything to do with you. All his negativity will have no say in how awesome you and your life can and will be. Remember that your equation with him is a factor in your happiness only if you let it be.

The attacks of self-pity

In the tiresome role of ‘daughter to an abusive alcoholic father’, there will no doubt be a good deal of ‘Why me?’ moments in your lowest lows, when self-pity will close in on you. But the more you hang on to your belief in yourself, the more unconvincing the self-pitying voices in your head will sound.

And one day you will catch yourself pitying those who had it easier than you did on the dad front, because they missed out on an entire badass education in being your own badass hero against an in-house villain. And when life’s inevitable stumbles and uncertainties – big and small – instil a lot more fear in them than in you, you’ll have yourself to thank for it.

Choose your friends consciously and wisely

Friends are indeed the family you choose, and given the chaos and hostility at home, friendship will mean a lot more to you than to people who have non-hostile home environments.

That said, it’s way better to be your own best friend than have a bunch of friends who don’t understand you and possibly never will.

Sure you may share laughs with them, but when you need a listener, you will find them too mild-at-heart, given their relatively peachy situations, and will not want to open up to them.

And if you do, you’ll perhaps get more uninformed judgement/sympathy than empathy from them, and some ill-founded advice. One can’t blame them though, it’s only natural.

They grew up very differently – under relatively sheltered circumstances – without constant hostility, and with a sense of stability amidst 0% alcoholic families where a typical dinner meant laughter, sharing your thoughts/feelings, fighting over the remote control, talking about school, and what you want to be when you grow up.

While your typical dinner means hostility filling the air while you walk on eggshells, being extremely careful not to inadvertently set off another tirade of verbal abuse for no fault of yours. And then getting screamed at for some unforeseeable ‘reason’ anyway.

And the things you’ve witnessed way back are things they wouldn’t even be allowed to see on TV. Things that could mess up an adult brain.

A bad day to them is when their bike gets stolen or some such thing, while for you it’s when your dad threatens to kill himself after you told him you don’t want to continue living with him.

So opening up to them would mean shocking the daylights them, and looking a wounded freak. And when you expect them to stand by you in matters big and small, they’ll wonder why it’s that big a deal to you. So rather than looking to others for understanding and trust, your best bet is to be your own best friend, and great friendships with the right people will happen eventually.

There is such a thing as being too resilient

Picking yourself up too soon, before you’re done feeling low about a setback may feel great in the moment, but lost sleep, it will catch you unawares later.

And having honed your resilience skills from before you even knew there was a word for it, you will be tempted to fast forward through the lows and get on to the next challenge already.

Bouncing back onto the field you were just shot a canon. Except you weren’t.

You’re a human who, all humans, needs time and space to heal and to see the lesson. So don’t take on big challenges while your wounds from the previous ones are still fresh.

Let there be a healing gap between, that crucial day in the week where you don’t work out, so that your muscles can rebuild and recover from all the exercise.

That rest day is as important as all the other workout days combined, for good reason. So take your time to heal.

 Picture credit: Melvin E (Used under a CC license)

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