My Dad Won’t Stop Drinking! 

I Got in a Fight with My Dad.

Dear Katie,
My dad is 55 years old and won’t stop drinking. I came home from a college break, walked in the house, and saw my dad passed out, with beer cans around him. I was so mad that I woke him up, shoved him, and was yelling at him to just stop. He started yelling back at me to mind my own business. I don’t even want to speak to him! I worry about him all the time and feel like I’m the parent, reminding him to pay his bills, get groceries, etc. I shouldn’t have to deal with this as a college student, he needs to grow up! —Chris

Dear Chris,
It’s only natural that anger can take over when you see your dad in that position. Your anger is coming from a place of fear and love. This is a lot for a young adult to deal with on top of attending college. You most likely feel frustration at seeing this pattern over and over and have probably tried to help your dad many times in the past, which has led to your strong reaction this time.

Let’s try a shift in our actions. If you see your dad that way again, try to call someone supportive so you can talk this through. It may help you get grounded in your thoughts, which may lead to a different action. Do you have a trusted friend you can confide in? Let them know what you’re going through. It can be a relief to share what it’s like for you. And they may be able to help you in other ways.

Know that it’s not your fault. Some people blame themselves for their parent’s substance use. They may think about times when a parent was angry or blamed them. They may wonder if they caused a parent to drink or use drugs. But kids can’t cause a parent’s substance use problem.

Know and name your emotions. Don’t bury your feelings or pretend that everything’s OK. Notice how a parent’s substance use problem makes you feel. It’s OK to feel the way you do. Use words (and not harmful actions) to express how you feel and why.

Warm wishes,

Disclaimer: The above advice is not meant to be construed as medical or legal advice. If you need professional medical, psychological, or legal advice, please contact a doctor, lawyer, or medical center.

Katie Donovan is a family, life, and relationship coach; keynote speaker; and writer with a passion for empowering women. She has been interviewed on ABC, NBC, and Fox Sports and featured in cover stories in Time and Money magazines. Katie’s award-winning blog,, reached over a million views and was seen in 146 countries within thirty days of its inception and has been syndicated in over thirty publications, including USA Today and Disney’s blog Babble.

Are you struggling to get your inner sparkle back? Have the relationships with your partner, family, or friends been affected? Ask me anything! You can send a confidential email to with Shift Happens in the subject line.

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