Teens Stop Blaming Your Parents for Your Alcohol Problems
If you are a teen who has been using alcohol as a form of recreational activity and getting into trouble because of it, it’s time to face the music and look at what may be driving such behavior. And, no, it isn’t fair to blame your parents for your actions – although many American teens that drink do. There’s more going on here that you need to be aware of. Beyond awareness, there are some things that you can do to overcome your difficulties with alcohol. But first, let’s look at why you should stop blaming your parents for your alcohol problems.
Genes Are Only One Factor
If you fall into the category of believing that you can’t help drinking too much because one or both of your parents are an alcoholic, that’s a rationalization right off the bat. You’re basically looking for an excuse to keep on drinking at your current rate. Yes, there is research that’s ongoing that shows that certain people may have a genetic predisposition or vulnerability to alcohol, but just as having a genetic marker for another type of disease, such as breast cancer, doesn’t automatically mean a person will develop that disease, neither does the presence or absence of a gene identified with alcohol vulnerability mean you will or will not become an alcoholic or have problems with alcohol at some point in your life.
Such research focuses on chromosome 15 linked to alcoholism, specifically a gene identified as GABRG3. But just because scientists have found the gene doesn’t mean they understand the genetic basis of alcoholism. In addition, scientists do not know how changes in the GABRG3 gene increase a person’s risk for alcoholism.
So, forget about blaming genetics as a reason for your problems with alcohol. Even if you do have a genetic marker that somehow increases your vulnerability, there are other factors that contribute to alcoholism besides genetics.
Environment Is Only Part of the Equation
Do your parents constantly drink, have fights, embarrass you, and neglect your well-being while they are drunk? No doubt this affects you greatly, but you cannot use that as another reason to justify your own continued drinking – or your problems as a result of your behavior. While it is true that your attitudes toward drinking may be shaped by what type of behavior you witness in the home – as well as the behavior you see outside the home, on TV, in advertising, among your peers – the environment in which you live is yet only another factor in what may or may not contribute to alcohol dependence or alcoholism.
Anyone can absolve themselves of their drinking problems by blaming others. Your parents are a convenient scapegoat. Counselors, judges, lawyers and law enforcement officials hear this complaint (or something like it) all the time: "I couldn’t help it. All my parents do is drink. I had to drink just to survive in the family."
Don’t believe it – and don’t use your parents as a way of excusing your own bad behavior. It isn’t fair to them or to you. Beyond that, if all you do is continue to blame others, you’ll never address the real problem – why you’re drinking – or begin to work to overcome the problem through counseling.
You Know Right From Wrong
Let’s be clear about something. You know that it’s not right to be drunk all the time or to drive while intoxicated, cause harm to others as a result of drinking, or neglect your own well-being because of your dependence on alcohol. In other words, you know the difference between right and wrong. You don’t really need your parents to tell you that your behavior isn’t acceptable – although parental rules and enforcement of a code of family behavior regarding alcohol – as in zero tolerance for underage drinking – is a big reason that teens choose not to drink. You’ve seen the consequences of drinking too much in others, and probably yourself as well. Instinctively you know that getting drunk day after day is just not the way to live.
And yet many teens – perhaps you are among them – insist they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong. No way will that fly in today’s interconnected society. Not only is there a blood alcohol content (BAC) level in every state to measure intoxication of drivers, but the news media reports of drunk driving accidents, celebrity convictions for manslaughter as a result of drunk driving, and high-profile celebrity stints in rehab for alcoholism are played out every day.
Problems you have due to your continued drinking are not the fault of your parents. Their attitudes and the home environment may play a part in how you formed your own opinions and attitudes about alcohol, but you are the one who is responsible for your own behavior in the end. If there’s a consequence that occurs because of your drinking, it’s you that will bear the responsibility. You will be the one who will have to accept the consequences.
Availability of Alcohol Doesn’t Make it Okay to Drink
Suppose your parents keep the liquor cabinet fully stocked at all times, not only to satisfy their own daily drinking patterns but also to be ready for celebration at any given time. Just because you feel you have ready access to liquor anytime you want it doesn’t mean it is okay for you to drink. Remember that drinking is against the law for minors – and that means you. Whether or not you care to recognize that fact, it’s still true. Sure, your parents should lock up the booze so you’re not tempted, but give it a break. Stealing alcohol from home so you can go out and get drunk and party with your friends is just not acceptable. Blaming your parents for alcohol being in the house is just another way of trying to skirt your own responsibility for your actions.
Saying Your Parents Don’t Care if You Drink is Nonsense
Do you truly believe that your parents don’t give a hoot if you drink or not? Are they that far gone (drunk all the time) that they don’t even know what you do on a daily basis? If that’s the case, you have issues of serious parental neglect that call for intervention by the authorities. You need and deserve a stable environment where you are nurtured and cared for by your parents. But most parents do care about the welfare of their children, and this includes being concerned if their child has or develops a problem with alcohol.
Why would you say that your parents don’t care if you drink, anyway? Why do you think this will absolve you of your problems as a result of alcohol? When your grades start to fall or you get in trouble at school because you’re always getting into fights, or if you get pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), will saying that your parents don’t care if you drink make it any less your fault? You already know the answer to that. No one – certainly not your parents – forced you to drink. You alone bear the responsibility for putting alcohol into your mouth.
Getting Back at Parents by Drinking
Maybe you feel like your parents are the worst people on earth. They’ve kept you from going to parties or staying out as late as you like with your friends. Their rules and punishments are far too restrictive for your liking and you seek to defy them by going out and drinking to excess. Are you just trying to get back at them with your drinking? Do you feel like you’re shoving your behavior in their face, taunting them with your actions – even though you know that what you’re doing is wrong?
First of all, it is the responsibility of your parents to try to give you appropriate limits, to set family policy, and to enforce the rules. This includes letting you know in clear language exactly what the consequences are for drinking when you have been informed that there is zero tolerance for underage drinking. Suppose there’s been no such discussion in your family, but you’re not allowed to stay out past 10 on school nights, you can’t see certain friends because your parents don’t like them, or some other restriction that you don’t like. Does this give you the excuse to go out and drink so you can somehow get back at your parents? That’s just another indication of not living up to your own responsibilities. As long as you remain at home under the roof of your parents and you are underage, you are bound to abide by their rules. When you reach the age of 21 and are out on your own, then you make your own rules. But for now, blaming your parents for your problems with drinking after you’ve tried to get back at them by drinking is just plain foolishness.
Acting Out Hatred of Parents Doesn’t Absolve You
There’s no question that some teenagers have parents that could use some better parenting skills. There’s also no question that growing up is hard to do. There are so many things pulling at you at once: pressure to do well at school, peer pressure to conform, self-imposed pressure to try to be liked by others, societal pressures, tension in the home as a result of other siblings getting attention, and a whole lot more. Maybe you are one of those teens that feel hatred toward your parents for any of a number of real or imagined ills. Some misguided teens take out their frustrations over what is or is not going on at home by drinking too much. Although they are definitely in the minority – meaning, most American teens don’t act this way – it is a problem when it does occur.
But what does acting out such hatred by drinking really get you, anyway? Only more trouble than you can readily deal with. It’s not worth all the aggravation and potentially life-threatening consequences (someone could be killed or severely injured as a result of your drinking and driving). When you blame your behavior on your parents, whether it’s drinking too much or anything else, it’s just another copout you’re using to absolve yourself of your responsibilities. It never works. You’re still the one responsible.
Trying to Take the Pain Away Your Parents Cause You
On the other hand, let’s look at another reason why some teens drink. Maybe they feel that their parents have caused them a great deal of pain. This could be because the teens feel their parents don’t love them enough, don’t spend enough time with them, hurt them in physical or emotional ways, or some other real or imagined hurt. Drinking may start as a way to conveniently escape the pain, to make it all go away, even if it’s only for a little while. The problem with this line of thinking is that the alcohol only temporarily relieves the pain. As soon as you’re sober again, the pain will still be there. By being drunk all the time, you’re only cloaking what’s bothering you and never get to the point where you do anything about it.
There’s only one way out of this type of no-win situation and that’s to seek help to overcome your problem with drinking. Then you can begin to address – with the help of a professional counselor – what’s going on in your life and how you can take steps to behave in healthier ways. In other words, you need to recognize that you need help, seek the help, and go through with the counseling. Don’t just blame your parents for the pain they have caused you while you stew and get drunk to obliterate your feelings. That’s a downhill slide that’s certain to cause you even more pain.
Where to Get Help
Sure, it’s tough to admit that you have a problem with alcohol. It takes courage and a willingness to admit that you need help. But even if others in your crowd are not ready or refuse to quit their bad drinking behavior, continuing to blame their parents and everyone else for their own actions, you can end this vicious cycle. How? Start by talking to an adult that you trust. Maybe this is one of your parents or another close relative. Perhaps it is the school counselor or a favorite teacher. Maybe it’s a parent of one of your close friends or another adult whom you know and trust. It could be your doctor or pastor at your church. As long as you trust the adult, confide your situation to him or her and ask for help in overcoming your problems with alcohol.
You can also contact Al-Anon/Alateen by going to their website or calling their toll-free number at 1-888-4AL-ANON. Al-Anon (and Alateen for younger members) is an organization that has been helping friends and family members of problem drinkers for more than 55 years. You might be in despair, feeling hopeless, afraid that things are never going to change. You want your life to be different. Going to Alateen meetings may help you learn a better way of life. Check it out online and start going to a few meetings.
If your drinking has progressed to the point where you have serious problems with alcohol (blackouts, DUIs, waking up in strange places, unwanted sexual activity, HIV/AIDS, getting kicked out of school, arrests, etc.), you may benefit from professional treatment. You will need to contact an adult that can help you find treatment.
Above all, if you want to change your life and ensure that you are able to live up to the potential and reach your dreams, you should stop blaming your parents for your problems with alcohol and get started doing something positive to change your behavior.
Yes, you can do it. There’s nothing holding you back except perhaps your own unwillingness to let this crutch go. Life will still go on around you, but you won’t be able to embrace it enthusiastically and wholeheartedly if you continue to exist in an alcohol-induced fog. Remember that once you start down the path of excessive drinking, the only way to stop is to get professional help. Alcohol can rewire your brain to the point where all you think about is drinking, all you do is drink, and your life becomes a shambles. Don’t let this happen to you. Stop blaming your parents and reach out for help. Now is the best time to do so. If you need to talk with someone about treatment right now, call the toll-free and confidential Treatment Referral Helpline operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP.