How do I talk to my parents about their slowly worsening alcholism




I have tried talking to my parents for years about their drinking and each year I see them getting worse. They can function but since my dad’s retirement 3 years ago he has gone downhill really quickly. They are both in denial and the times I have been able to build up the strength to say something they deflect and pretend it isn’t that bad.

This past Christmas was the worst I have seen them with my dad regularly drinking from midday, meaning every day was a struggle to even have basic conversations with him. I was almost fr oxen with anxiety and instead of being able to express my thoughts I was really quiet. I could tell that both my mum and dad could see I was worried about them, but instead of any of us discussing it, they kept drinking more to try and forget.

They have always been drinkers but it has got heavier and now part of their daily routine. I think they have got worse partly because they are worried about my brother, who lives with them at home and is unemployed and himself probably suffering from depression and severe anxiety. I want to be able to help all of them but don’t know where to start.

  • listener


    Thank you for reaching out to Nacoa. I am sorry to hear that your parents drinking is getting worse. When you see a loved one go through something like that, it can be an emotionally-wearing situation to process.

    A pattern that often occurs in family environment where alcoholism exists is that the person who drinks starts to deny their own drinking habits, which can lead loved ones who care about them to worry about how they can get help. Unfortunately, as much as we want to help, they have to be the ones to start that process, as hard as it is to witness.

    You mentioned that you would like to help all of them but not sure where to start. It sounds like there is a lot on your own shoulders. Is there anyone in your life you are able to confide to about what you are going through?

    Our publications page (at: can be a useful to draw on for further support and information.

    Sharing your story is never easy but you did do that first step by posting here. Nacoa is here to support however we can. You can contact the helpline on 0800 358 3456 during 12-7pm Monday to Saturday.

    Take good care of yourself.

    • panthera.onca

      I can hear how tough it is for you and how much you care for your parents.

      It sounds like retirement has changed their routine or norms around drinking. They may have concerns about their drinking but not know how to change things.

      How would it feel to suggest some post retirement activities, especially as more and more people are getting out and about again.

      Take care.

      • dancingtime

        It's hard to know what to suggest as my dad has never really had his own hobbies. He enjoys taking our dog out for daily walks and that's a good release for him as he meets dog walkers and the park rangers etc to talk to, but he definitely needs more of his own hobbies when he gets back home.

        When he gets back my mum will be working in the home office upstairs and he used to have access to the computer where he would do a lot of work on his music collection etc, but since COVID my mum has taken over the home office meaning his only really space is downstairs in the kitchen where he reads and inevitably starts drinking because his mind isn't occupied.

  • listener


    I am sorry to hear about your parents drinking.

    It sounds to me that since COVID has hit, your dad feels lost and out of place considering the home office is unavailable.

    Do you think talking with your dad about potential hobbies could help? If he enjoys dog walking, there are rescue centres around that need volunteers to help walk the dogs daily if that is something of interest? Or if there are any interesting clubs around that he could join?

    How are you feeling about it all? Do you have anyone that you can speak to and can support you?

    Take care.

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