Having an alcoholic parent

Children raised by alcoholic parents are certainly at risk of becoming alcoholics themselves. Both genes and environment play a part in whether or not a person becomes an alcoholic. But of the two, environment is more important: a large twin study found that the children of men with no history of alcohol dependence, whose identical twin brothers were alcoholics, were no more likely to abuse alcohol than the children of non-alcoholic twins.

In itself, given that the child of an alcoholic is likely to be raised in that environment, that’s not necessarily all that encouraging. And yet it is. You can’t do anything about your genes, but you can do something about your environment. Not, probably, a whole lot — the plight of the child is that they have little control over their environment. But there are ways in which even a child can exert some control, and this of course is considerably greater for a teenager.

This is NOT a way of saying whatever befalls them is the child’s fault! What others do to us, especially when we are weak and powerless, is often beyond our control. And even adults have considerable trouble in knowing how to make the right differences to their world, and to have the ability to do it.

But it does offer hope, that there are things you can do to limit some of the effects of your environment.


Here are some links that may help point you in the right direction:

Coping with an alcoholic parent (article) 

Alateen is for young people who have family or friends with drinking problems.