Ever since I can remember, my father has drunk alcohol. In fact, his older brother died from alcoholism when I was around the age of 10 - roughly 7 years ago. This was fine, it was all in relative consideration and I sadly don't particularly love him enough to care.

However, recently - the past year or so - his drinking has gotten worse. He will have a glass of wine in the morning then a beer and/or another glass at lunch. Next he'll have a mid-afternoon drink, with another glass of wine or beer at dinner. Finally he'll have an Irish Coffee and occasionally a peach schnapps before bed. The day drinking doesn't occur while he's at work - unless his boss takes him down the pub - but he makes up for it with an extra glass at home. Also, his boss about 1-3 times a week takes him down the pub for an "off-site meeting" and I'm sure you can wager how much work gets done there verses the amount of drinking.

Due to our lack of a close relationship, I have over the years tended to just avoid him and ignore him. However, recently my mum has been trying to intervene more so than she used to and he is upsetting her greatly. If she attempts to bring up his alcoholism, he will bring up her weight - which is hard for her to control as she has polycystic ovaries - or the fact she earns less money than him. She teaches me at my school so that I have a well-qualified teacher for my subject area and she got pushed out of IT when she had me. He has also just shattered her last vase left from their wedding when he came home in a drunken stupor and tried to blame it on her.

I am sick to death of him treating my mum this way when he has neglected her for most of my life. Furthermore, they nearly got a divorce in the past, so I know they certainly aren't together out of love anymore - just a misplaced sense of stubbornness to not give up. I am planning to confront him over his behavior, but at best I feel I will be shouted I to my room since in his eyes I probably don't have a leg to stand on.

I would like some advice on how to broach the topic with him, in a way that I can come across as calm and mature, even if he decides it is appropriate to insult me. I will say now I have definitely inherited his intolerance of foolishness, which is why I need to know how to not back down without creating a bigger argument than I intended to.

Please note that even if I try to avoid too much confrontation it will occur anyway, so I need to be precise and frame my points in a way he can't do the usual - I have a 1st class PhD and you don't.

  • So we'll have to see what sorts of answers come up here, but my experience with adiction is that the answers to these sorts of questions are highly personal. You really have to dig into who they are (and who you are).
    – Cort Ammon
    Jul 17, 2017 at 21:55
  • @Cort Ammon I guess you could say that's part of the problem. I've never gotten to really know him because he was bad with me as a small child, then I got independent early, then I got to ignoring him myself because he wouldn't listen to me. That's part of the reason I need the advice. We might have rooms next door to each other, but we are miles apart. Jul 17, 2017 at 22:01
  • How old are you now?
    – Cort Ammon
    Jul 17, 2017 at 22:05
  • @Cort Ammon I am 17 now Jul 17, 2017 at 22:15
  • I'm sorry you're in such a tough situation. Please get support from experts and people in your situation, and contact Al-Anon (or the local equivalent), which has a subgroup Alateen for people in exactly your situation. Reaching out for help on the Internet is a good first step. Please take the next step and get the full support you need. Jul 19, 2017 at 16:57

2 Answers 2


I don't think you should confront anything at this point. While I fully understand your desire to, I can see nothing good coming from it right now. I do think you should contact Al-anon to get support for yourself & your mother. You seemed likely to be in the UK since you said "mum", so if I am wrong, you can google Al-anon for your country, but the link for the UK is here. http://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/

They offer support & guidance to family & loved ones dealing with alcoholics ans they do have teen programs specifically. I think that what would be best is to first contact those that know what this is like, have walked your path & can give you truly knowledgeable guidance on what you can do to help yourself & what your mother can do to help herself, and then sort out if you want to confront your father & how you would go about doing it.

I really am sorry you are going through this. It's more than you shoudl feel responsible to try to handle.

  • +1 Note that Al-Anon also has Alateen groups for teenagers, like the original poster. Jul 19, 2017 at 16:58

As I mentioned in my comment, solving issues like alcoholism is never simple. You need to really work at understanding who they are inside in order to influence them. It's not easy. There are professionals who do this for a living, so don't be afraid to reach out to them.

As for any constructive information, I fear I am not one of these professionals. I can give you my opinion, and you are free to take it or leave it, no obligations. I have strong opinions. It's up to you to decide if they're useful opinions for you or not.

There's two hard lessons that do have to be learned up front. They're painful ones, but they're needed. The hopeful bits come later.

  • You cannot force someone to stop being an alcoholic. Unfortunately, by basic psychology, you can't force an addict to change. You can't really force anyone to change. You can encourage them to decide to change, and can provide them with tools with which to change, but you always have to do it indirectly. This can be infuriating, especially if they don't want to change, but it's reality.
  • You can't confront someone about their alcoholism unless you have a relationship to begin with. There's those intervention things; they can work. But they work because the alcoholic cares about those relationships. If you and your father do not have a strong relationship, you won't be able to confront him about his alcoholism. You can work with him to change things, but understand that the word "confront" will get you in trouble unless you have the relationship to back it up.

To expand on that last point, people don't like alcoholics. The alcoholics know it. They are very used to being confronted, and they have a massive repertoire of tools to deflect such confrontation. You've seen it in how he turns on your mom. Alcoholics will do almost anything to deflect such confrontation.

What alcoholics need to heal is connections. Once they have those connections, they can be used to encourage (or even confront) the alcoholic to decide to change. Without those connections, you have nothing. However, there's a co-dependent risk here. You can't just bury yourself in your dad's life in hopes of healing him. That rarely works and often leaves you drowning.

So what do you do? The first step is to live a brilliant beautiful life. I'm not kidding. Don't try to heal your father at the expense of yourself. Decide to live a life worth living, and then go out and do it. Once you decide to do that, then you can approach your father and start offering connections. The basic message you're looking for is "I plan on having a beautiful life, and you're invited to join me." As the connections form, you can shift that message to "you're invited to join me... but your alcohol makes it harder and harder to extend those invitations." Give him a reason to want to change. Never close all of the doors, but make it clear that there's more opportunities to be had without alcohol in the way.

And then you have to keep doing it until he changes... or doesn't. That's really why its important that the first step is to live your own life beautifully and brilliantly. You don't get to decide how long the process takes. You may spend the rest of your life helping your dad combat his alcoholism, so make sure it's a life you feel is worth living.

Make him weep with pride with how wonderful of a daughter you turned out to be. Then you'll be in a position to encourage him to cast away his weaknesses in order to be closer to you.

There are other approaches. Again, there's the intervention thing, and some say it works. My recommendation is this approach, because the worst case is that it doesn't actually work, and instead all you manage to do is live a beautiful brilliant life. You can always switch to another approach if you think you found a better one.

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