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Daughter getting drunk on her own at night

(22 Posts)
heeeeelp Thu 01-Jan-15 12:24:25

I feel I need to seek professional help - I need to know how to start the conversation - or am I overeacting - do you have experience of this? Let me explain

My daughter left herself logged in in facebook at my house while she was at her mothers. I do not believe she knows that.

For a couple of nights that I can see on private message exchanges (so not on her public timeline) she has been talking about the fact that she is getting drunk on her own at typically from 2am onwards. I believe she is doing this at her mothers house. a message she sent on FB in a conversation was "I like drinking on my own"

I'm not sure how many times she has done this, or if she has done it at my house.

She is in first year of 6th form college so it may be post AS mock stress relief. That said her mother has a year old son, his father is someone I would love to name and shame as an example of a damaging and irresponsible parent. The effect of his lack of desire to be a responsible parent, and potential desire to abandon his son, is having a significant effect on my daughters mother - and as a result my daughter - when she is feeling low my daughter has said she wishes her brother had never been born.

My daughter also smokes (not sure how often) and also smokes weed (not sure how often). She has dabbled with other drugs (not often).

Some of this I only know from Facebook - so if she hadn't left herself logged in I would not be aware - and a lot of the time she appears o be a happy and positive person - worked hard on revision for her mocks.

Point is I feel she is on a knife edge - or indeed may already have gone over the edge. I feel if I dont do something then she may well already be on a slippery slope. That said I texted her the other day and said "we dont speak enough" but she said she was happy. So involving professional help may not work if she does not perceive herself as being at risk - and even if I do, then I may not be able to get her to come along or engage.

Maybe the drinking is just cause she is on holiday and will return to normal when college restarts - but I feel if she is drinking on her own and says "she like drinking on her own" then she has reached a point where she needs professional help.

Your wisdom and experience please.

CatCushion Thu 01-Jan-15 12:33:38

Hmm..sounds as though she is underplaying the dangers or binge drinking and alcoholism (or doesn't know enough about them). Could you find a good educational or short documentary video on youtube about it and post it to your own facebook wall and share with her? At her age (16, or nearly?) it is more a matter of keeping lines of communication open and getting her to the point of drinking rarely and in moderation. Also that its not safe to be drinking alone at night.

Or...could she have left it as a trap for you to see if you spy on her?

HolgerDanske Thu 01-Jan-15 12:46:55

How old is she? I don't think you should have been reading her private messages.

HolgerDanske Thu 01-Jan-15 12:50:07

Oh first year of sixth form. So 17?

I still don't think you should have read her messages.

Young kids are dumb a lot of the time. All you can do is talk with her, in a relaxed matter-of-fact way, at neutral times, about the things that worry you. Most of it she will have to learn for herself, but you can lend a gently guiding hand.

JustSpeakSense Thu 01-Jan-15 12:53:39

Teenagers do wildly exaggerate on FB.

I wouldn't admit reading her messages to her.

But I would have a heart to heart (perhaps mention a friend at work has discovered their DD of a similar age having these problems and it got you thinking) to try and open up the lines of communication.

Good luck

Fairylea Thu 01-Jan-15 13:02:38

I would imagine at least half of what she's said is made up. Everyone tells a lot of lies on Facebook. I once created a whole made up account for some bloke I told an ex I was seeing to make it look like I wasn't sitting at home on my own every evening (which I was).

I'd just try and talk to your dd and be very open and see where that gets you. I don't think you should have read her Facebook. Even teens are entitled to some privacy.

heeeeelp Thu 01-Jan-15 13:34:24

Yes - I know, part of the problem is that I feel I should not have read her messages. That said - that fact becomes irrelevant if she is need of help. Yes teenagers need privacy, however surely a parents duty to protect overrides that. Why I was there when I discovered she was logged in is a long story to do with an ex of mine and depression on my part - if I hadn't seen a message come up about LSD then I'd have respected her privacy. I suspect in this case in the long run it is better to damned and been in an informed position to help than to have not opened this pandora's box.

Have any of you have seen slurred typing? I have ... she ain't exaggerating her night time drinking. That to me suggests an unhealthy level of drunkenness.

Yep, teenagers have to learn, and by their own mistakes. However there are things that they can do that become out of their control, for example alcohol abuse. If that is fueled by emotional issues then I believe that is a mighty dangerous cocktail - hence my posting here.

Problem about talking to her is I suggested I did not really know how she was feeling and that we did not talk enough. But she said we did and she was happy. I'm someone who worries, maybe excessively due to my own issues, so my gut feeling says I need to get her help.

I'm not sure how successful a conversation would be - if she feels she is happy, and there are times that I see the carefree happy side of her - and from her point of view I don't know the things that concern me.

Bottom line is alarm bells are ringing big time - in my book getting drunk on your own is a dangerous place to be.

LastingLight Thu 01-Jan-15 13:43:53

Can you talk to her mum and ask her what she has observed? Surely if DD is getting drunk in the night there must be signs of it the next day. And where does she get the alcohol from?

heeeeelp Thu 01-Jan-15 14:14:09

Hi LastingLight - problem with that is I'd probably have to reveal my source, unless someone can suggest a way I could have found out - and her mother may not appreciate the fact that I was looking at daughters FB - equally could cause problem with daughter if she finds out - and now is not the time to create barriers

CatCushion Thu 01-Jan-15 14:35:42

no, the bottom line is not the alarm bells, the bottom line is death. If you try and control a teenager, especially try to control what they are doing at 2am in their bedroom, then you are in danger of violating more than their privacy, and it can give them really lasting emotional problems, including shattering their trust in you and deciding that they would be safer to leave home altogether.

Yes, you can't admit to reading her fb account, because that will be a problem. I suggest you pave the way to offer a friendly support service while she is a young adult finding her way in the world...

Does she have any parental controls on her devices at all? I manage these things in a 'trust and verify' way by saying I have unremovable controls on phones, laptops, computers etc which I do not constantly monitor. I am not interested in spying or stalking on her or friends, but have a parental responsibility to check they are safe, and to check they are not being abused, and to check they are not breaking the law. So I say I do spot checks and that if I see anything I am concerned about, I will talk with them in private. I am not interested in snitching on them or their friends, just being there for them, and so unless they want to give me lengthy updates about their sex, drug, alcohol, mental health and 'private' lives, I will go the trust and verify route until they are of an age when they don't need me to.

I have a daughter with a mental health problem. When this first started to emerge, I poured all our hard drink down the sink and wouldn't let it back in the house for a long time. She takes medication for depression and she shouldn't drink with that. She admits that she does drink sometimes with friends. So the little alcohol we do now have in the house we hide away from her and it is locked away when I'm not nearby. DD has bought alcohol I think, and certainly has friends who are old enough to, and who drink too much, so the important thing I feel I need to do is to keep the interest in the rest of life good enough (and occasional reminders of the horrors of a death by alcoholism) for her to not want to drink alcohol in excess, drink alone, or drink most days.

CatCushion Thu 01-Jan-15 14:39:39

In the meantime...can you get her to text you when drunk, so you have slurred texts to go by?

heeeeelp Thu 01-Jan-15 16:01:09

Thanks catcushion - good idea bout trying to catch her slurring on text, I'll give that a go - I suspect that may be a good way in if I am successful. Problem there is I aint up at that time sad

How do you achieve the verify in "trust and verify". I am exploring how I can turn the internet off at say 1am - she also stays up late watching telly on line - will go through whole series in a night.

I don't think she is depressed - she may be emotionally stressed - and not see a way forward for some of the issues.

She buys the alcohol her self. I'm not sure what you meany by controlling or violating what they do in their bedrooms at 2am - yep, you could go in and catch them at it, but that was not my intention. And I am well aware that you have to give them space to make that transition from child to responsible adult.

CatCushion Thu 01-Jan-15 20:09:12

I achieve the verify by...verifying. i use the parental controls on devices to check if my children are where they say they are, the sites they log onto, who they are talking to and when. I block mobile use in the early hours of the night with it too.
The way I see it, when someone has a work mobile there would be a lot of surveillance and restrictions, andas a parant I'm expected to carry far more responsibility for my children than a boss for an employee (different scenario, perhaps, but it's a phone/laptop/computer I provide, so my phone my rules.)

Rootandbranch Thu 01-Jan-15 23:36:47

My sister used to self medicate with alcohol at this age to cope with anxiety. She'd drink alone like your dd.

She went on to become an alcoholic in adulthood, though is recovered now.

I'd be very worried if I thought my dd was regularly drinking alone. Not sure what I'd do about it though. Sorry, that's not helpful, but I do think you should talk to her mother.

cottageinthecountry Thu 01-Jan-15 23:54:33

I think you need to give her something to look forward to and talk about, take her somewhere nice, make her know she is very important to you, and enlist other relatives and family friends to do the same.

Being a teenager must be extremely difficult these days, they are very small in the big wide world of the internet, must feel very insignificant. Try and make her feel big again. Also don't complain about her Mum and brother, encourage her to help out with him, she could get a lot out of that.

heeeeelp Fri 02-Jan-15 01:23:53

Thanks for that rootandbranch - problem is how to approach her mum without letting her know how I found out. But yes I need to.

Cottageinthecountry - she knows that she is very important to me and her relatives and family friends.

She is in an orchestra, goes to explorers and is a young leader for cubs. I dont complain about her mother and brother - if anything its the opposite - given what her brothers father is like I have offered support.

If she doesn't say she feels unhappy then I'm not sure how I approach it all with her.

cottageinthecountry Fri 02-Jan-15 02:51:59

Hmm - it sounds to me as though she is going through the motions of playing dutiful daughter but deep down feels very very unimportant in peoples lives. I know you probably tell her she's important and do your best to make her feel like that but how she perceives that is a different matter.

It's quite possibly something quite deep connected to her relationship with her mother - she was number one in a 1/1 relationship with her Mum, now the new man and the baby have come along and that will have turned everything on its head. It would make her wonder if she can be the most important person in someone's life for x number of years then suddenly one day she's not - who can she trust, what's the point of having that strong bond with people if it's just broken?

It would make you feel very alone and isolated if your foundations were taken away like that. What normally happens is that we have arguments with our parents and push them away, it's the normal separation process that drives us to lead independent adult lives. That didn't happen with your daughter, she was just suddenly sidelined. It probably has a particularly strong impact if she was an only child.

Just a theory...

heeeeelp Fri 02-Jan-15 11:44:09

@cottageinthecountry ... interesting, and difficult to find out.

Whats gives you that sense - have you experience yourself or talked with people who have?

heeeeelp Fri 02-Jan-15 11:49:47

@cottageinthecountry - yeah, there is also a backstory before my daughters brother came on the scene, but she has not had an ideal childhood - not sure how much that has an effect now - in many ways she is a pretty sound person, ask family friends who know her - all though there is more to her than meets their eyes as revealed by FB.

cottageinthecountry Fri 02-Jan-15 14:27:08

My guess is that she's a perfectly sound person whose world has shifted in a way that has completely unsettled her. Outwardly she's the same, as we all tend to be even when times are very hard. The anxiety will be hidden, it usually is. So I see it as a transition - she's been thrown into something she needs help getting out of, help to understand that whatever's happened isn't the end of the world and that it's normal to feel rejected, ignored, let down, scared etc etc.

It's how you perceive the issue itself that counts and teenagers often have very little perspective on life when things shift faster than they can cope with. As adults we look at a challenge and admit that it feels bad but we keep going and know that the feelings eventually pass and if we're lucky we learn something from the experience. As a young person that's just not built in yet, they think that the now is the forever and that there's something very wrong if things aren't 'normal'. They have a heightened sensitivity to peers or 'appearance' and being normal to their peers is hugely important.

What should be happening really is that she should be rebelling against her Mum (perhaps this is what's brewing) and step Dad and baby brother, running off to her mates and telling them that her family doesn't understand her. That's a normal teen response. She seems concerned more with how you and her Mum perceive her and so is keeping up appearances to the detriment of her private well being.

So perhaps I should take back what I said about her bonding more with the baby brother. It's something she could do but perhaps she just needs to rebel and not be part of the harmonious family unit for a while. Perhaps that's what you could be supporting her to do - or at least helping her to assert herself and be more self-reliant.

If she is using alcohol to get herself to sleep, try and find out why she can't sleep - is it because she's overthinking her rejection? This is imo a normal response and she needs to understand that over time those feelings will pass but they are just part of growing up, part of the separation that needs to take place. It's a kind of grief. To medicate that away with alcohol will simply lead to problems further down the line. As a teen you are very susceptible to addiction (it's a brain development thing) so she should also learn about that too.

heeeeelp Fri 02-Jan-15 22:27:29

@cottageinthecountry no step dad in the equation - both her parents are single. Part of the issue may well be how much she worries about her parents sad specially her mother

re-normal repsonse - she's got her head screwed on too well to be normal - I'd go as far as saying she looks down on "girly" teenage rebellion - that said FB reveals that there is a hedonistic(ish) side to her. People have said, even many years ago, she has got an older head on her.

I'm still curious to know what the evidence is for your feeling that feels rejected

cottageinthecountry Sat 03-Jan-15 01:55:32

The rejection feelings would come from having a new baby in the house and her mother having someone else, even if only for a short while. She had an exclusive relationship as an only child with a single mother. This has a built in intensity much like a partnership, along with it comes a sense of loyalty and commitment beyond that of the normal teen/parent relationship. As a teen she should be pulling away but the dynamics of the relationship won't allow for it, there is too much for her to lose.

It could be identified as a form of cognitive dissonance and this does lead to mental health problems.

If I'm not barking up the completely wrong tree, if you think there is something in what I'm saying, then the way to approach it would be to help her to identify the reality of her situation. So 'yes it must feel very hard to gain independence, you have been together for so long', 'it must be strange having a baby in the house after all these years of it just being you and your Mum', stuff like that. Talk about her future, how she sees herself in a few years time, living in a flat with friends, or x or y or z?

I think raising her self awareness by showing her perspective is going to be the key to her understanding why she feels strongly about some things at the present time and talking about her (realistic) future will give her options and hopefully help her to realise that she's not stuck in the present.

It might help to read this

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