Adult Children of Alcoholics
Do You Feel Powerless, Angry And Near Your Wit’s End?
As an adult child of alcoholic parents or the partner of an alcoholic significant other, do you feel rejected, overwhelmed, powerless and/or angry? Does someone you love routinely put alcohol first, leading to arguments and resentment, although you still try to justify his or her behavior? Maybe your parent or parents are still alive and drinking heavily, which is impacting their memory and ability to remain independent. Or perhaps you were raised in an alcoholic home and experience difficulties with trust, intimacy and/or control in your romantic relationships, as well as self-esteem or self-confidence issues. It might be that you married an alcoholic and now find the same negative patterns repeating in your adult life. Do you feel trapped in a cycle of embarrassment, uncertainty and fear? Do you wish you could enjoy loving relationships in which you don’t feel like you’re responsible for everything? Do you want to be heard, acknowledged and to have some peace in your life?
Living with and/or loving an alcoholic, whether your parent or significant other, can be a highly frustrating, stressful and lonely experience. You may be experiencing constant arguments with your loved one and/or constant worry about how much he or she will drink. Bad decisions made by the alcoholic that put you and others in your household at risk may be impacting all aspects of your life. You might feel overwhelmed, anxious or depressed and have turned to alcohol or another vice yourself, such as overeating or shopping, in an attempt to feel some semblance of calm. Constantly covering up for your loved one might have you harboring resentments. And although you’ve made requests or even demands that he or she cut back or stop drinking, you continue to clean up the messes he or she makes while inebriated. Never-ending worries, concerns and questions about what the day will bring might have you waking up each morning with heaviness in your chest and an ache in the pit of your stomach. And, problems with finances, careers and kids acting out may be adding to the stress, causing you to feel even more overwhelmed.
You Are Not Alone
Although you might feel isolated in your anger, embarrassment, grief and frustration, you are far from alone. Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the U.S., with one in 12 American adults suffering from some form of alcohol dependence at some point in their lifetimes and millions more routinely engaging in risky behavior due to alcohol overuse. And, for every alcoholic there are at lease two to three people close to him or her that are significantly impacted by the alcoholic behavior. Today, it’s estimated that there are 28 million children in the U.S. who have an alcoholic parent. These children are often forced to grow up quickly and take on the adult responsibilities of taking care of themselves, each other and their parents. Everyone has a role to play in these homes, and many of children of alcoholic parents grow up to repeat dysfunctional patterns in their own homes, relationships and lives. While they may want something different for themselves and their children, many become highly controlling and/or codependent and often find themselves drinking too much or in relationship with another alcoholic.
While it is easy to repeat patterns, the good news is that life is a journey and impactful change can be created everyday. There is another, more liberating and empowering way of living. An experienced, understanding therapist can help you identify, challenge and reframe the thoughts and patterns of behavior that are no longer serving you. You can begin putting yourself first and make decisions that are in alignment with your innate values and authentic self.
Counseling Can Provide Adult Children Of Alcoholics With Support, Guidance, Insight And Tools
In the safe and confidential space of therapy sessions, you can get to the root cause of your distress and start breaking down and reframing the negative thoughts that are fueling your frustrations, anger, fear and anxiety. Throughout the therapy process, I can help you set both short-term and long-term goals and take actionable steps to maintain happiness, detach from a parent or partner with love and create forgiveness. Although your alcoholic loved one may have done things that do not warrant forgiveness, forgiveness truly is the path of healing for YOU. Through the process of letting go of anger and blame and taking care of yourself first, you can naturally experience a change in your life.
I take a solution-focused approach to healing. Drawing from CBT, Mindfulness and other proven approaches, I will develop a therapy plan that best addresses and supports your unique experience, needs and therapy goals. As I coach you along your healing journey and personal discovery process, we’ll find the strategies and tools that work well for you and your specific situation. Therapy is a safe place for you to talk through anything and everything. It is your time, and we’ll move at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
In initial sessions, we will focus on what you need to feel an immediate sense of relief by slowing down your mind, challenging the thoughts that create feelings of powerlessness and shifting toward new, empowering thoughts that are based in truth. We can also explore family of origin issues, such a physical illnesses, addictions and ineffective patterns of behavior, that might have been recycled throughout generations. Once you identify particular patterns and understand how they’ve been—and perhaps are still being—played out, you can take both big and small actions to affect change. And, although creating change does take time, willingness and motivation, it is possible to replace old patterns with new, healthier ones that are based on what will bring you happiness and peace.
With guidance and support, you can decide what it is that you truly want and create the changes needed to get you there. Whether you are dealing with an alcoholic spouse, alcoholic parents who are still in your life or the lingering effects of living with an alcoholic in the past, you can learn that you are deserving of love, appreciation and abundance. Through over a decade in practice helping adult children of alcoholics navigate the distress that comes with loving a problem drinker, I know that there is a more empowering, peaceful way to live.
You still may have questions or concerns about counseling…
I want something different, yet I’m also afraid of too much change.
It’s often said that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. This thinking, while understandable, causes many people to remain in situations and continue making choices that don’t serve their highest, best selves. That said, in therapy sessions, I will listen to you, support you and offer alternative view points to help you assess your options, even if one of those options is to wait. And, if the idea of talking about making changes feels too overwhelming at first, we can focus on understanding more about alcoholism, its effect on families and its impact on you. Sessions are 100 percent client driven, and we can work toward relief and healing in ways that feel comfortable for you.
It’s my alcoholic loved one that needs treatment. Why should I be the one in therapy?
It’s the person who is motivated to heal, grow and affect meaningful change in his or her life that comes into therapy. And, while you may not be the one with the alcohol problem, the disease almost always significantly impacts partners and children of alcoholics. Therapy offers you support, an outlet and a safe place to learn how to best navigate the thoughts, feelings and issues that are creating distress.
I barely have time to think these days, let alone find an hour a week for therapy.
Although it can be time-consuming and energy draining to be dealing with an alcoholic, it is extremely important that you take time for yourself and engage in proper self-care. Our sessions are a place for you to unload, better understand what you’re dealing with and figure out how to get your own needs met. And, by taking better care of yourself, you’ll become better able to take care of the people you love—even in the midst of chaos—and model healthy patterns of behavior to those around you. The change you want to see in your life always starts with you.
Help, Support And Relief Are Available
If you’re an adult child of an alcoholic or living with an alcoholic spouse and seeking therapy in Mattituck, NY or the surrounding area, I invite you to call my office at 631-714-2634 for a free consultation. I’m happy to discuss your specific situation and decide if we’d be a good fit, as well as answer any questions you have about counseling for adult children of alcoholics, problem drinking and my practice.