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Gift for my alcohol-dependant father

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by avatar dinoceros 1 month, 4 weeks ago.

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    My father used to struggle with alcohol dependence when I was in grade school, and it was a big strain on my mother and myself. Ever since I moved out to go to college, he’s cleaned himself up, and he barely drinks anymore. But I know he’s also depressed; he’s been depressed all his life and he refuses to seek therapy because he says it’s useless. The only time I’ve ever seen him really happy is when I’m around, seeing as I’m his only child and he lost contact with his family years ago. I know this isn’t a healthy relationship, but he’s my father and he really tries to be a good person, despite the mistakes he makes.
    The issue I’m having is this: he used to really love these old video games, but he can’t play them anymore ever since his old computer broke ten years ago. And he still brings up how much he misses playing these games, because it was a form of escapism for him when he was sad. Unfortunately, he used to pair playing video games with drinking. I have recently found these exact old video games that he can play on his new computer, but I’m afraid that if I buy them for him, he’ll start drinking again. I’m not around anymore to protect my mother from his drinking, since I’m the only one he listens to. He’s not physically abusive, but he would become verbally abusive when he was drunk. The thing is, I’m afraid that providing these video games for him would cause him to relapse. Would I be able to tell him that I’ll buy the video games for him, as long as he doesn’t drink at all while playing them? There is a risk, then, that he won’t take me seriously and just drink anyways. I just really want to give him something to make him a little happier, but not if it could backfire.

    Northern Star

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to set him up with those video games. I see why you want to, but like you said—that scenario includes drinking. Not a risk you should take.

    But the bigger question is: Your father won’t go to therapy, but have you? Or have you at least joined a group like Al Anon? It’s commendable that you love your dad, but you aren’t responsible for him and you shouldn’t feel like you have to protect your mother. This is a bigger issue than video games, and I suggest finding some outside help overall. Good luck!


    I second the advice from Northern Star – You are not in charge of whether your father drinks or doesn’t drink. In the end, we can only control and be responsible for ourselves. Please look into joining Al Anon. They have helped thousands of people impacted by others’ drinking. Especially as an only child, you carry a unique burden. Best of luck to you!!


    I think it would be a toss-up whether the games would result in him drinking. On one hand, it’s habit. On the other hand, there’s no guarantee that the need that the games fulfills won’t just be filled by drinking minus the games.

    I think for your own peace of mind, it’s best not to buy them. If he starts drinking again, it sounds like you’d blame yourself or at least wonder if you contributed. Best to not go down that road.

    I’ll say that I’m actually in a similar boat as you with my mom. I’m an only child, she has been depressed for a long time. Uses alcohol to self-medicate sometimes. I live far away, so sometimes I feel bad since she misses me a lot. But I remind myself of some things: There are things she could do if she wanted help; I can fix this. I can’t let her situation run my entire life. And honestly, even if I lived nearby, she might have fun with me and be happy to see me, but it wouldn’t solve her depression. I think because she needs to have a “reason” why she isn’t happy, she uses things that seem logical, like me living further away, as a reason, even though the true reason is that she has a mental illness. Even when I was a kid and lived WITH her, she still struggled with this. Best of luck!

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