In the United States, alcohol is legal for purchase by anyone over the age of 21, making it easily accessible, and therefore, easy to abuse. Many people can drink without developing a problem. In 2015, roughly 70% of Americans had a drink at some point in the year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. But while most people can have a drink now and then, some develop alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to this same survey, 6.2% of Americans over the age of 18 had AUD. Alcohol abuse damages the life of the alcoholic, causing health problems, difficulties at work, and financial stress. Sadly, this impact is not limited to the alcoholic but spreads out to the people involved with the alcoholic.
What is an Alcoholic
Alcoholism is a non-medical term that described someone with an addiction to alcohol. An alcoholic craves alcohol and may use it as a crutch to make it through social situations or to deal with stress. An alcoholic cannot simply stop drinking. AUD is a medical term for people who compulsively use alcohol, cannot control their alcohol intake, and suffer emotionally when not using alcohol. Whether or not a person has a medical diagnosis, anyone with a drinking problem affects those around them.
Effects on Marriage or Partnerships
It is very challenging to be married or in a relationship with an alcoholic. The sober partner may feel conflicted between loving the alcoholic and feeling angry at the problems he or she causes. The sober partner may feel the need to protect any children involved. They may be embarrassed and try to hide the alcoholism from extended family and friends. They may take the blame, thinking that their own actions are the root cause of the alcoholism.
Often, the sober partner is the one to deal with the financial impact of alcoholism. Alcoholics spend money not just on alcohol but may overspend by making impulse purchases or gamble while drinking. They may fail to pay bills on time, causing late fees. The health effects of alcoholism are also costly as the alcoholic may require extra doctor’s visits and medications. Alcoholics tend to be less productive at work and to miss work because of drinking, resulting in lost wages and earning potential.
Domestic violence is a more tangible effect of alcoholism. One study found that between 60 and 70% of people who attacked their partner had been using alcohol.
Children of an Alcoholic
More than 10% of children live with an alcoholic parent. 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. The parent may have wide mood swings that confuse the children, causing them to question whether they are the source of the problem. Children of alcoholics are more likely to have emotional problems as children and are four times more likely to develop a drinking problem as adults.
Parents of Alcoholics
Parents of alcoholic children suffer greatly, whether the child is an adolescent at home or an adult. Parents often blame themselves for failing to raise a sober child. They may feel helpless, not knowing the right way to support their child. If the alcoholic child asks for financial assistance, the parents may feel torn between refusing, and watching their child go without, and helping and then worrying that the money will be spent on alcohol.
Alcoholism is not felt in isolation. If someone you love has a drinking problem, call 1-269-704-7232 to seek help.