One of the best things that you can do for your friend is to give her your unconditional love and support. It can be very hard living with a parent who has a drinking problem – children in that kind of a situation may not feel that they are getting enough love and attention, may be significantly worried about the safety and well-being of the parent, and may feel constantly cautious or on edge because their world may feel so unpredictable (i.e., will mom or dad be in a good mood or a bad mood; will there be any problematic incidents today). This being said, it is very important that your friend have people in his or her life to provide stability, love and support.
If your friend has not already done so, you may want to encourage him or her to speak with a private therapist or a school social worker in order to receive additional support and guidance in dealing with this very tough situation. There is also Alateen available, which is a support group for children of alcoholics – very often it can be helpful to meet with other people who are living in similar environments and therefore dealing with the same kinds of feelings and experiences.
Depending on how badly your friend’s mother’s drinking problem is, as well as the kind of behaviors she exhibits, if you ever become significantly concerned about your friend’s emotional or physical well-being, FX recommends that you and/or your friend speak to a trusted adult right away – whether your parents, a teacher, school counselor, or medical doctor. It can be quite a burden to be carrying these types of stressors all on our own – and it is usually helpful to enlist the help of trusted adults for support and guidance.
If your friend lives in northern New Jersey and needs help finding a therapist, you or your friend can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area.
Other resources include: Al-Anon/Alateen Hotline at 1-800-344-2666, which is aimed at helping young people who are the relatives and friends of problem drinkers; National Association for Children of Alcoholics, www.nacoa.org; Youth Crisis Hotline, 1-800-448-4663, 24 hours, 7 days a week for those 17 years of age or younger who are in crisis.