How to Deal with a Drunk Son

The Best Way to Deal with a Drunk Boy

It's every parent's nightmare, that one day your son will get drunk and you will have to handle it. While this is an emotional experience for parents, it is important that you support your son through the process. And this is definitely a time when there are good and bad ways to respond as a parent. Here's how to deal with a drunk son, and get it right.

Stay Calm

Models pose as father and teenage son
Stay supportive while your son is drunk. Bruce Ayres / Getty Images

It can be frightening and annoying to see your son drunk for the first time. But it is important to stay calm and in control of yourself while you are dealing with him. Your son is in a vulnerable state, both physically and mentally, and despite the fact that you may be angry with him, he needs your care and concern at this time.


  • Speak clearly, calmly and gently to your son.
  • Take responsibility for his health and well-being.
  • Stay with him until he is completely sober, no matter how tired you are.

Do not:

  • Yell, criticize, argue, threaten or otherwise verbally abuse your son.
  • Laugh at, make fun of or express amusement at his drunken state.
  • Kick him out of the house or otherwise attempt to punish him while he is intoxicated.
  • Touch him more than necessary; drunk people often perceive touch as threatening and lash out. Warn him verbally before you touch him, for example, "Johnny, I'm just going to help you sit up."
  • Force him to eat or drink anything else.

Find Out How Much He Has Drunk

Young boys can appear very drunk after consuming relatively small amounts of alcohol because they have very low tolerance to alcohol. However, if your son has drunk more alcohol than his body can handle, he may be at risk of alcohol poisoning.

If he is able to speak, try to find out how much he has drunk, in a way that will not encourage him to lie about the amount. You can also check with his companions or the party or drinking establishment where he was drinking to get an idea of how much he has consumed. Use the blood alcohol concentration estimate for men to evaluate his level of intoxication, and be aware that most people underestimate how much alcohol they have consumed, especially in home-poured drinks.

Get Medical Help if Necessary

Take your son to the emergency room if:

  • He is unable to speak or is incoherent.
  • He has vomited - this is his body's first line of defense against overdose.
  • He has - or you think he may have - taken other drugs, including prescription medication.
  • He has lost consciousness - "passed out" or "blacked out" - at any point since starting drinking.
  • He has had a fall or sustained any other injuries.
  • He or someone else indicates that he may have consumed strong alcoholic beverages, such as vodka or whiskey, in the past hour; he may become more intoxicated later.
  • You are concerned about his health or well-being for any other reason.

Call the Police if Violence Erupts

The risk of family violence increases with alcohol use. If your son becomes threatening or violent to people or property, call the police immediately. This kind of situation can easily escalate into a tragedy. The police are well-trained in diffusing and managing these situations.

The same is true if the other parent, or another person present, becomes violent toward your son. Fathers can often get very angry when their teenage kids are drunk, and you don't want to get caught in the cross-fire by trying to break them up. Remember, you can work out the details of how you move forward as a family tomorrow when everyone is sober.

Rehydrate Him

Encourage your son to slowly sip water to rehydrate him, but be prepared that sometimes the process of drinking more - even water - can induce vomiting in a drunk boy. If he vomits, take him to the emergency room for treatment.

Keep Him Awake

It may seem counter-intuitive to keep your son awake when he is drunk. But ideally, you want to see him sobering up before letting him "sleep it off." That way, you can be more confident that he is not going to become more intoxicated and that he will not vomit while sleeping, one of the greatest risks for asphyxiation for someone who is drunk. If he does appear to be becoming more intoxicated as time goes on, take him to the emergency room.

Put Him in the Recovery Position

If your son is too drunk to stand up or you're unable to take him to the emergency room, put him in the recovery position and call an ambulance. If he has sobered up and you feel he will be safe to go to bed, make sure he goes to sleep in the recovery position. That way, if he vomits during the night, he is less likely to inhale the vomit.

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