Alcoholism is a serious problem in America today, with as many as 17.6 million Americans struggling with alcohol addiction. People with alcoholism crave alcohol and simply cannot stop themselves from drinking. Whether they use it as a social crutch, to relieve stress, or out of habit, alcoholics drink regularly and may even suffer from withdrawal if they stop. Some alcoholics recognize their problem and struggle to overcome it; others fail to acknowledge it, thinking that their drinking habits fall within the realm of typical behavior.
Who is Affected by Alcoholism?
The effects of alcoholism are not limited to the actual alcoholic but extend to the addict’s spouse or partner, children, and parents, even if the alcoholic is an adult. The effects of alcohol on family and friends are typically negative, especially for those who depend on the alcoholic. Alcoholics frequently fail to meet their obligations: they may forget about family functions or other commitments, ignore bills that need to be paid, or “check out” even when present because they are drinking. Friends and loved ones may suffer emotionally from outright conflict, from neglect or abuse, and from the disappointment of failed expectations. The impact of alcoholism reaches as far as the workplace, where the alcoholic may fail to fulfill his or her responsibilities, leaving others to fill in the gaps.
How Alcoholism Affects the Family
Those who live with an alcoholic suffer the most, especially the children. In America today, more than 10% of children live with a parent with a drinking problem. An alcoholic parent has a profound emotional impact on the children that can result in:
- Anxiety: Children may constantly worry about whether or when the parent will drink or if the parent will be abusive that day.
- Guilt: Children may blame themselves for their parent’s drinking.
- Embarrassment: Children may be ashamed or feel secretive about their parent’s drinking, or worry about the parent’s behavior in public.
- Confusion: Children thrive on routine, but an alcoholic parent may fail to provide a stable home life, forgetting to pay bills, buy groceries, or even to make sure the kids go to bed on time and wake up to go to school. Children of alcoholics may be confused about what to expect each day.
- Anger: Children may be angry at the parent who drinks, or at other adults for failing to notice or correct the problem. This anger can manifest in poor schoolwork or disciplinary problems.
- Depression: Children of alcoholics may feel isolated from others, helpless to change their circumstances, and suffer from some of the conditions listed above, leading to depression.
All of these conditions are more common in children of alcoholics than other children and can persist into adulthood. Children of alcoholics:
- Have trouble forming lasting relationships, as they may not have learned what a healthy relationship is or how to maintain one.
- Act impulsively without thinking their actions through, perhaps because they act based on emotion instead of thinking logically.
- Are four times more likely to develop a drinking problem as adults, and are more likely to abuse others substances such as drugs. This may be because substance abuse seems normal or because they have seen it used as a coping mechanism so many times.
Because children of alcoholics frequently cannot seek help themselves, it is important for other adults in their lives to look out for them. Helping the adults in their lives can make a lasting difference in the lives of these children. If you or someone you love who struggles with alcohol abuse or the effects of alcohol on family and friends call our toll free number today. We can help find the right treatment program for you.