Effects Of Alcoholism On Families

Alcoholism can have a negative impact on every member of the family. From marriage to children, alcohol addiction wreaks havoc on the family dynamic.

Violence, sexual and mental abuse, and infidelity are just a few of the common horrors within families affected by alcoholism.

Gilda Berger, author of Alcoholism and the Family, states that 75 percent of domestic abuse cases directly involve alcoholism. Many of these cases are spousal and are recurring, lending to mental and emotional abuse of children as well.

These alcohol-related occurrences and abuse are examples of what leads in most cases to new problems amongst and within the affected families. Families often feel the legal and financial ramifications that come with these alcohol problems. In short, alcoholism significantly impacts every aspect of a family dynamic.

How Does Alcoholism Affect Families?

When one member of the family suffers from alcoholism, everyone in the family is affected, whether directly or indirectly. Everything from family relationships to household finances can be influenced by alcoholism in the family.

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Research has shown that alcoholism in a family can wreak havoc on the overall structure and health of the relationships within the family. Everything from emotional bonding to feeling comfortable in expressing emotion can be affected when alcoholism is involved.

Most of the problems seen in relationships are a direct result of lack of trust in the relationship. Constant alcohol abuse may cause a person to lie and not keep their promises, which can slowly erode any relationship, but especially familial ones.

How Does Alcoholism Affect Marital Relationships?

Any kind of substance abuse, such as alcohol addiction, can place a strain on a marriage. In fact, addiction is one of the primary reasons that couples go to therapy. Alcoholism within a marriage is also associated with a number of problems, including infidelity, domestic abuse, stress, jealousy, unplanned pregnancy, and more.

Marriage is drastically affected by alcoholism. Alcohol addiction is one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States, especially when only one member of the relationship suffers from alcoholism.

A spouse’s alcohol abuse can influence a range of emotions in the other spouse and result in long-term emotional damage. The development of codependency is extremely high in an alcoholic marriage.

Codependency occurs when one spouse cares for and inadvertently enables the alcoholic spouse’s behaviors and addiction. In fact, some spouses even develop an identity that centers around taking care of their alcoholic husband or wife. This kind of behavior can result in worsening and untreated alcoholism that slowly impacts the marriage.

How Does Alcoholism Affect Children?

Alcohol abuse and addiction can negatively impact the relationship between parent and child. Alcoholism can make parents more unstable and prone to impulsive behavior, which in turn can create distress and unease within the home for children. Additionally, children can grow to mistrust their parents, setting the foundation for trust issues in the future in other relationships.

Kids with parents who are alcoholics tend to struggle in school as well. They are at a higher risk of developing mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. They may also be more prone to substance abuse in the future.

Alcoholism And Effects On Finances

Alcohol abuse and addiction can wreak havoc on the family finances in more ways than one. To begin, alcohol is not free to drink, and the more drinking being done the more expensive it will be. This can quickly add up and take away from other areas where there may have been money budgeted, such as for groceries.

Additionally, alcoholics are more likely to make impulsive purchases. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, making it a lot easier to spend money on things that may not be wanted or needed when sober. Even when drinking at home people are susceptible to spending money thanks to the internet. Online shopping can easily add up and cause distress on a family’s finances.

What’s more, an alcoholic’s job may be on the line due to his or her drinking. Work productivity and attendance can both drop due to alcohol consumption, potentially resulting in being let go or demoted. Health issues may also arise due to drinking, causing bills to add up and work to be missed.

Alcoholism And Domestic Abuse

Alcoholism is one of the leading causes of domestic abuse and violence in homes across the United States. People who usually aren’t violent may become so when intoxicated, especially in the face of distressed relationships and financial hardship.

Alcohol lowers inhibitions and reduces the rate of critical thinking, meaning that someone who otherwise is not inclined to violence may pick up the habit while drunk.

Violence isn’t the only form of abuse exhibited in an alcoholic home. Emotional and verbal abuse are also common in homes where one or more family members are addicted to or abusing alcohol. Emotional abuse can include humiliating statements, belittling comments, manipulation, blackmail, and more.

Help For Families Affected By Alcoholism

The most effective solution for families with alcoholic members is for the person addicted to alcohol to seek help. The first step to getting help is admitting there is a problem, and this can be difficult for many active alcoholics. However, staging an intervention can sometimes give the push needed to encourage a family member to seek help.

Support groups and counseling can go a long way to help the family members affected by a loved one’s alcoholism. Support groups such as Al-Anon teach individuals how to deal with alcoholic loved ones, while counseling can help to work through emotions and other issues that have resulted from an alcoholic home.

For more information on treatment and resources for those with alcohol addiction and their families, contact us today.

University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions - Reaching Others: Does Drinking Affect Marriage?

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Children of Alcoholics: Are They Different?

World Health Organization - Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol

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