Drunkard Son

23 Mar

Letterbalm Teenager DrinkingDear LetterBalm: We’ve got a serious problem. Our son is a junior in high school and an excellent student and terrific athlete. He’s got lots of friends and participates in the community. But in the past few months he’s been caught coming home drunk and paying adults to buy liquor for him. He gets belligerent when confronted and very angry when we punish him. Grounding him and not allowing him to drive haven’t stopped his drinking. We’ve had to lock up our liquor cabinet. He’s sullen, sloppy about his appearance and mean to his little sister – she’s bewildered by his behavior. He’s getting into shoving matches and arguments at school. Honestly, my wife and I don’t know what to do.

–Puzzled Parents

Your son is in deep trouble, and you and your wife must mobilize without delay. Start with your son’s doctor and get a full physical examination, with referral to a neurologist and other specialists as necessary. Ms. L.B. regrets to tell you that, as frightening as it is to contemplate, your son’s radical behavioral changes could indicate a brain tumor or disorder, schizophrenia, severe allergic reactions, a neurological illness or a host of other serious conditions. It’s unfair to him and the family to permit things to continue as they are. Your son is in danger and needs your help. This is way beyond grounding or confiscating car keys. Sit with him calmly, just the three of you. He needs parental love and reassurance because he’s probably terrified about what’s happening to him (including the possible diagnosis that he’s acquired a taste for alcohol and is just plain nasty about it):

Tyler, your mother and I are very worried about you. Your behavior recently is so out of character for you. We think you have a serious problem. So, we’re taking you to Dr. Smith, and we’ll be with you every step of the way. We’ll do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of why you’re acting the way you are. We know you’re scared and worried – that’s to be expected. Son, we love you, and, no matter what the problem is, we’ll stick with you and help you get through this.


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