Effects of Alcoholism on Family
When people think of alcohol addiction, they may only picture the impact it can have on the lives of those who become addicted and overlook the impact on the family. But the disease affects the family and friends of the addict in ways that you might not imagine. Learning how addiction can have a negative effect on families and friends of the person addicted to alcohol will help you understand that alcoholism is an issue that society needs to solve as soon as possible.
Physical abuse and financial instability are just of few of the complications to which you could be exposed if someone you love is combating addiction. Learning about the threat and what you can do about it will increase your odds of getting the person you love on the path to recovery. Read on to learn more about the effects of alcoholism on family.
Getting and staying sober is very challenging, but with the right support network and tools, it's completely attainable.
Effects of Alcoholism on Unborn Children
Getting drunk can result in unplanned pregnancies, and not everyone will be able to stop drinking as soon as they learn about the child. You must take the time to understand how drinking can impact unborn children if you want to give them a fair shot at life.
Since unborn children share blood, oxygen and nutrients with their mothers, women who drink will pass the alcohol to their unborn child. This issue will increase the child’s chance of being born with defects that can impact physical features and mental functionality. Pregnant women who are addicted to drinking must seek help right away so that they can protect their unborn children from harm.
Young children and teenagers of alcoholics will also feel the impact of the disease in ways they might not realize. When someone is facing addiction and does not know how to combat the problem, drinking becomes a No. 1 priority. Normal obligations and the well-being of children will take a backseat to the addiction, causing some parents to neglect their children. Because children want to look up to their parents, they will often blame themselves for their parent’s drinking problem.
When parents overlook the basic needs of their children, the children can experience low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness. Those who are not old enough to cook or prepare meals are at risk of malnutrition and starvation. Teenagers of alcoholics will often lash out to get attention or to battle the negative feelings associated with watching their parents throw their lives away. The resulting damage can last for years and be difficult to reverse, and some children never fully recover. Unfortunately, many children of alcoholics will turn to alcohol as well.
Married to an Alcoholic
When you want to get a clear picture of how alcoholism impacts families, learning how it can affect spouses is difficult. In many cases, a person may have met their spouse before the alcohol abuse was deemed to be a problem. In other situations, a person may think they will be able to change their spouse after some time.
Without the right alcohol abuse treatment, most people won’t escape from the problem, and it will only get worse as time passes. Since people addicted to alcohol overlook their daily obligations, spouses need to take on extra responsibilities. This may lead to resentment and ultimately a lack of support when the person abusing alcohol decides to seek treatment.
Parents and Other Family Members
Parents and the other family members of alcoholics are often confused about how they should approach the problem, and everyone hates seeing addiction rob loved ones of their lives. People who are battling alcoholism will often ask to borrow money from their loved ones, and this issue can become complicated. On one hand, they don’t want to support the habit, but they also know that their loved one could opt to buy alcohol instead of getting food or paying rent. An alcoholic’s family members can face depression and other mental health issues themselves if they don’t know how to handle the addiction and the issues surrounding it.
Domestic Violence Secondary to Alcohol Abuse
Consuming alcohol can impair judgment and cause people to act impulsively, but alcohol withdrawals can cause agitation and mood swings. Whether or not alcoholics have access to alcohol, their family members may be exposed to domestic violence.
When alcoholism leads to domestic violence, it often starts as small acts of aggression and gets progressively worse over time, and it can cause lasting damage to relationships if nobody stops the problem as soon as the red flags present themselves. Yelling can turn into hitting and punching before the victims realize the issue has grown out of control.
Finding Help for Alcoholism
If you are a friend or family member of an addict or are addicted and want to stop drinking before you have an impact on your family, you have come to the right place. When you enlist help from the staff at SpringBoard Recovery, we will learn about you and your unique situation so that we can craft a treatment plan that fits your needs.
Admitting that you need help and reading this guide are the first steps toward a solution, so you are already on the right track. Our caring staff will take you by the hand and guide you through the healing and recovery process to optimize your odds of reaching a favorable outcome, and you are invited to start right away.
Contact an addiction counselor now for help.
Photo Credit: Kevin Delvecchio
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Alcoholism?
Most professionals refer to alcoholism by another name – alcohol use disorder. When a person suffers from alcohol use disorder, they feel compelled to drink, regardless of the consequences. Their drinking behaviors lead to distress and harm for themselves and possibly for other people as well. AUD can be mild or it can be severe, depending on the symptoms a person is experiencing.
When someone has AUD, they have strong cravings for alcohol. They are not in control of how much or how often they drink. They also feel anxious or irritable when they are not drinking.
Is Alcoholism Genetic?
Researchers have found that there is evidence that alcoholism can run in families. In fact, children of alcoholics are as much as four times more likely than other children to have a problem with alcohol abuse.
But that does not mean that if a person has an alcoholic parent that they are destined to be an alcoholic themselves. There are other factors that play a role as well. Also everyone has a choice about whether they will follow in a relative’s footsteps.
What Types of Relationship Problems Can Accompany Alcoholism?
Alcoholism can cause a lot of problems in relationships. Usually the spouse is the one who bears most of the burden, but other types of relationships can be impacted as well.
Alcoholics are often agitated, drowsy and confused, which can be hard to deal with. They may frequently make excuses for their absence or because they acted inappropriately at social gatherings. It is not uncommon for people with alcoholism to even refuse to attend an event if alcohol is not being served.
Relationships can become strained when one partner is constantly worried about the other’s use of alcohol. It is not surprising that so many of these relationships become strained and eventually end.
How Can Families Stop Enabling Alcoholics?
One of the biggest and most common traps that families often find themselves falling into is the trap of enabling an alcoholic loved one’s behaviors. Most of the time, they think they are helping the alcoholic, but in reality, they are only making the problem worse.
It can be difficult to stop enabling an alcoholic because of the love you have for them. But it must be done in order for them to see a need to recover. All too often, families will:
- Make excuses for the alcoholic’s behavior to others.
- Loan them money, which is used to purchase more alcohol.
- Support them financially in other ways, such as paying their bills for them.
- Take care of their children.
- Rescue them when they have to face the legal consequences of their actions.
All of the above should stop and families should learn how to set healthy boundaries that will encourage the alcoholic to get the help they need. Any consequences should be left for them to endure. It may be challenging, but it is really the most loving thing a family can do.
What is the Best Way to Confront an Alcoholic About Their Drinking Problem?
Please note that confronting an alcoholic is rarely going to end up with a positive result. It is much more likely that they will continue to drink and feel the need to defend their behaviors.
Most families may find that they have more luck if they stage an intervention. This should only be done with a professional interventionist. They know exactly what to say and how to guide the family throughout the entire process.
In many cases, interventions result in the alcoholic agreeing to get help for their addiction. It is an option that more families should consider because the majority of the time, it works well.
How Can Families Support Their Alcoholic Loved Ones in Recovery?
Families can do so much to support their alcoholic loved ones while they are in recovery. They can:
- Agree to be available for family sessions during rehab.
- Visit them while they are receiving treatment.
- Offer to go to AA meetings with them.
- Give them a lot of encouragement and be there to listen to them when needed.
- Make sure to avoid serving alcohol at functions so that they are not tempted to drink.
- Families with loved ones in recovery should also consider getting professional help for themselves. They can learn how to continue avoiding enabling behaviors and how to take care of themselves as they provide support.
- Verywellmind: https://www.verywellmind.com/why-is-alcoholism-called-a-family-disease-63294
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/alcohol-use.html
- NACoA: https://nacoa.org/families/just-4-teens/
- Al-Anon Family Groups: https://al-anon.org/blog/dilemma-of-the-alcoholic-marriage/
- Al-Anon Family Groups: https://al-anon.org/newcomers/how-can-i-help-my/alcoholic-child/
- World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/factsheets/fs_intimate.pdf
- Verywellmind: https://www.verywellmind.com/the-four-stages-of-alcohol-and-drug-rehab-recovery-67869
- Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/@kevindelvecchio?utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=photographer-credit&utm_content=creditBadge
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/alcoholusedisorderaud.html
- US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056340/
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/niaaa-guide/index.htm
- University of Pennsylvania Health System: https://www.uphs.upenn.edu/addiction/berman/family/enabling.html