How to Handle a Daughter Who Has Alcohol Problems

Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

There is ample evidence that suggests that alcohol consumption among teens is a serious public health concern with far-reaching consequences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between 2001 and 2005, nearly 4,700 deaths were attributable to underage drinking and in 2010, approximately 189,000 emergency room visits involved persons under the age of 21 and were linked to alcohol. If your daughter is struggling with alcohol dependency, it’s important to get her the help she needs immediately.

Talk to Your Teen

One protective factor for minimizing teen drinking is having a quality, parent-teen relationship according to, a blog created by Cornell University. If you haven’t already done so, try to establish open and honest communication with your daughter. Talk to her about the dangers of alcohol consumption, and share some of your personal stories with her, highlighting any consequences you had to face for underage drinking. As opposed to taking a “do as I say” approach with your daughter, tell her that you respect her need to make her own choices, but that she should make responsible choices that won’t put herself or others in your home at risk. Find out what’s going on in her life that’s causing her to drink alcohol. If she’s doing it because her friends are drinking and she’s trying to fit in, encourage her to be a leader, take a stance against reckless behavior and, if necessary, find a new group of friends to associate with.

Residential or Outpatient Treatment

Residential treatment centers are a viable option for your daughter if you want her to get away from common distractions in her life – such as friends, social media, etc. – and focus solely on her recovery. Residential treatment is also an option if your daughter has a co-occurring mental health diagnosis, or if outpatient services have proven unsuccessful in the past. Many residential centers offer alcohol treatment programs for a minimum of 30 days, and are available locally or out of your local area. Outpatient centers offer recovery programs as well, and allow your daughter to go home each night. Both residential and outpatient treatment centers provide the same resources for youths struggling with alcohol dependency, such as on-site counselors, social workers and therapists.

Professional Counseling

You may opt to enter your daughter into professional counseling if you suspect that her alcohol consumption is problematic. Seeking a counselor may be a better financial option than residential treatment, and may be useful if this is your daughter’s first instance of alcohol abuse. A professional counselor or therapist can use various therapeutic modalities to help your daughter quit drinking, including cognitive behavioral therapy or behavior therapy, which will teach your daughter to develop new thought patterns and behaviors to help end her alcohol dependency. Therapy may also help your daughter address any unresolved emotional issues that she’s dealing with.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Many therapists refer clients to Alcoholics Anonymous as part of treatment according to Whether your daughter sees a therapist or not, she may attend AA meetings, and you can search for meetings in your local area that cater specifically to teens. AA has a 12-step program to recovery that teaches those struggling with alcohol dependency to be honest about their addiction, seek to find a viable solution to managing their addiction and to live their lives based on the principles introduced to them in the 12 steps. As notes, the AA program may not appeal to everyone, but thousands of people have successfully quit drinking after joining AA. It can be an effective solution to dealing with alcohol dependency, and may add tremendous benefit to your daughter’s life.