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Help with Alcohol for My Son or Daughter: 10 FAQs

Mother and daughter, standing next to each other, looking out to sea

We speak to many concerned relatives about problematic alcohol use, but none more so than parents and partners. Though many of the concerns and worries are similar, today we’re writing to mothers and fathers, whose adult son or daughter needs help with alcohol addiction. Mums and Dads, we understand how hard it is to watch a loved one struggling with alcohol. Often, parents experience intense worry, sadness, frustration, anger, along with a sense of powerlessness to change what is happening. But there is hope too, hope that things can be different, which is why parents call us. Most of our team are in long-term recovery from addiction, so we know it’s possible to get well, and stay well.

We also know how much courage it takes to pick up the phone for help. We’re sharing here 10 FAQs that parents often ask us about their son’s or daughter’s alcohol use. Please call +44(0)208 191 9191 or contact us here, to speak in confidence about alcohol treatment.

1. Can you help my son or daughter stop drinking alcohol completely?

Mother with arm around son, looking at the camera

Yes, that’s what we do. We’re an abstinence-based addiction treatment centre. This means the main treatment goal is to help our clients stop drinking alcohol completely, and learn how to stay stopped.

There are other services that offer help to cut down alcohol, which can be useful for people who may be drinking a bit more than recommended guidelines. People who do well at cutting down tend to be fairly health-conscious, with strong motivation to self-manage.

In our experience, however, where there is psychological and/ or physical dependence on alcohol, these measures to cut down often aren’t enough. Trying to control an addiction is the equivalent of filling up a leaky bucket. Our pre-treatment alcohol assessment will identify symptoms of alcohol addiction in your son or daughter. We will always be honest if we are the right service. If we’re not, we can refer them to a more suitable organisation or professional.

2. What kind of help with alcohol addiction do you provide?

We offer a 6-week non-residential rehab programme for alcohol addiction, known as Dayhab. For the first four weeks, it’s a commitment Monday to Friday (part of the day), then for the final two weeks, treatment takes place three days per week (part of the day). Our service is available face-to-face in central London, west London, and from May 2022 in Winchester too. We also pioneered Online Rehab in the UK, as a response to Covid; our Online Rehab operates morning and evening streams, and is a very popular choice with working people, parents and carers. We also provide one-to-one counselling for people for alcohol addiction, but often the assessment process shows that a period of intensive rehab is needed, before weekly one-to-one therapy sessions commence.

3. Does my loved one need an alcohol detox?

We’ll know this when we carry out the pre-treatment addiction assessment. This process takes on average about an hour (but we go on for as long as your relative needs), and it includes a detailed set of questions around alcohol consumption, as well as use of prescription drugs and/or illegal drugs. We also cover wider mental health and physical health needs, as well as signs of behavioural addictions too.

If alcohol is consumed regularly (most days or every day), there may be a physically dependence, which will then cause a range of withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking suddenly. It is essential to get medical assistance with an alcohol detox, if your son or daughter is physically dependent on alcohol. You can read more about alcohol detox, or contact us here for help to arrange either an in-patient alcohol detox, or a home alcohol detox.

4. How do I speak to my son or daughter about their addiction?

Often, parents will call us for help with alcohol addiction in the family before they have spoken to their relative. If this is you, we’re here to support and advise you. Please get in touch with us on +44(0)208 191 9191 for an initial conversation about what’s going on. We will listen to your circumstances, and advise you on the best way to approach your son or daughter.

As general guidance, we’d say that this depends very much on your relationship with your son and daughter.

  • If you have a good relationship, where you speak openly, then we’d encourage you to say to them that you are concerned enough about their drinking to be researching professional help with alcohol addiction. Ask them if they’re open to discovering more about what help is available, and offer them practical support in finding out. Remember, even though you may naturally want to provide extensive emotional support to your son or daughter, you cannot be expected to provide specialist alcohol addiction help. It isn’t your job to help them understand the nature of their alcohol problem, nor provide them with sustainable solutions to recover. It really is enough that where your adult child has an alcohol problem, you play a role in helping them to search out professional help.
  • If you have a more distant relationship with your son or daughter, or if there is any risk of harm to you or another person, then that’s a different matter. If you think there could be an angry or violent outburst, for example, or an extremely distressed reaction from your relative, then we would suggest you speak to us first. Once we understand your personal circumstances, we can advise you on the approach to take. This could be arranging a time where we speak to them directly. Or if it’s not appropriate for you to have the very first conversation with them, there are alcohol addiction interventionists who help family members to have that initial conversation. This can be particularly helpful when someone is in denial about the extent of their alcohol problem.

5. Is your service completely confidential?

Yes. We treat every enquiry in the strictest of confidence. Where we assess a client who does not then choose treatment with us, we delete permanently the assessment, including all personal data. Where someone chooses treatment with us, we store essential client information in a secure, password-protected, system. We never share any personal data with third parties.

The only caveat to confidentiality is in the rare case that there is imminent risk of harm to the client, and/or others. For example, if we assessed a client, who said they were intent on self-harm, then we would need to involve at least one other professional. Please be reassured, this is very rare.

Mother and daughter, walking away down country lane

6. I think my son or daughter is also taking drugs – how do I know?

Short of asking them, there’s no way of knowing if they are also taking drugs. This includes whether they are self-medicating with over-the-counter tablets like codeine, or they are abusing prescription drugs, or they are taking illegal drugs such as cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, ketamine, opiates, ecstasy. There are signs and symptoms to look out for, however. Click here for:

7. My son or daughter has a job, kids or other commitments – how does that all fit with rehab?

Help Me Stop was founded to address the wide gap between the few people who can access residential treatment, and the few who can access public services quickly. Traditionally, people with jobs and kids could not easily access intensive rehab for addiction.

Help Me Stop pioneered the Dayhab treatment model in the UK. It allows working people, parents, carers, and people on lower budgets to access intensive treatment, but at the end of each treatment day they go home, instead of staying overnight. This way, they don’t need to pay for the expensive costs of accommodation, 24/7 staffing, and in-house catering. Most importantly, they can still see their partners, children, and other significant family members and friends. Some of our clients also choose to carry on working, either part-time or full-time during treatment: this fits easily with our Online Rehab programme, but also people with flexible working arrangements can access our face-to-face Dayhabs too.

This has important therapeutic value too: we call it rehab in the real world. Our clients learn how to manage everyday stresses, concerns and difficulties, whilst going through rehabilitation with us. They learn how to manage cravings with intensive support in place.

Father and son talking in cafe

8. Can I make my relative go into treatment?

You can, of course, express your wish to your son or daughter that they engage with alcohol treatment. You can take practical steps to support them, including with researching professional help, or community support like Alcoholics Anonymous. You can also help with domestic issues whilst they’re in treatment, or even contribute towards the costs of treatment, etc.

However, you cannot make your relative go into treatment. We don’t advise issuing any form of ultimatum, particularly in the heat of the moment. That said, setting boundaries in a calm and consistent way can be very helpful. To give an example, we wouldn’t advise saying something like, ‘if you refuse to go into treatment, then I won’t speak to you again’. But it would be okay to say, ‘I would like you to accept professional help with addiction, because I really don’t have the skills or knowledge to help you with alcohol.’ Then, it’s up to your son or daughter about whether or not to choose treatment for themselves.

9. If they will accept treatment with you, how quickly can they start?

Depending on the day of the week you call, it can be within 24 to 48 hours. In some cases, we have assessed clients, and then they join us the following day. If you make the first call to us at the weekend, then we’ll arrange the assessment with your son or daughter as early as possible in the next working week. We have flexible treatment options, including morning and evening streams in our Online Rehab, and face-to-face Dayhab in London and Winchester, so most people easily find a programme that fits well with their life.

10. What can I do while they’re in treatment, to support their recovery?

The short answer to this is you’re probably already doing enough. The fact you’re seeking out professional help shows how much you are supporting them. We often have to tell family members to focus more on themselves. If you are feeling very stressed or upset about your child’s alcohol problem, then we’d suggest getting some support for yourself. If your relative chooses treatment with us, we also run a family programme to offer guidance and support on the best ways to handle what is going on. Aside from that, we’d say that taking some time for yourself to do what you love doing, while your son or daughter is getting specialist professional care. Take the pressure off yourself to sort out what’s going on. Of course, it’s fine to show you are interested in their treatment process, so you can ask them how they’re getting on. But in the early days, if they don’t want to talk too much, rest assured that’s very normal.

Please call +44(0)208 191 9191 or contact us here, to speak in confidence about alcohol help for your son or daughter.

Son hugging his father who is seated at a table

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