The Effects of Alcoholism on Family
How Alcoholism Affects the Whole Family
Alcoholism causes stress, anger, and hurt for the whole family – not just for the person who is an alcoholic. While it’s well known that alcoholism can destroy an individual’s health, career, and self-esteem, this disease also ruins relationships and marriages. This article looks at the ways alcohol addiction affects families.
The Alcoholic’s Spouse
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that an alcoholic will frequently neglect their spouse in favor of drinking. To someone who is addicted to alcohol, nothing is more important than knowing where their next drink is coming from, not even their closest relationships. Even formerly devoted spouses often lose interest in the person they married after their addiction takes hold.
Naturally, this abandonment is usually quite hurtful for the alcoholic’s spouse, and alcoholism is a primary reason for divorce. The non-addicted spouse may worry about the alcoholic, but feel helpless and unable to get through to them. In the end, many husbands and wives of alcoholics give up if their spouse refuses to get treatment.
Worse still, alcohol often brings out the worst in people. It’s not uncommon for alcoholics to become violent when they’re drunk, and they often take out their unhappiness on their spouse. In fact, alcohol is a major factor in domestic violence incidents.
How Alcoholism Affects Children
Many alcoholics believe that their addiction doesn’t affect their children, or that their kids don’t realize what is going on. They are usually wrong. Children are very perceptive, and when one or both of their parents are addicted to alcohol or another substance, they know something is amiss.
For healthy mental and emotional development, children need to feel like they can rely on their parents. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case for the children of alcoholics. An addicted parent may not always be around, and even if they are, they may be too drunk or hungover to pay attention to their kids. The emotional volatility of many alcoholics can be harmful for their kids as well. Even if an alcoholic is not abusive, they still tend to suffer mood swings that can hurt those around them. Sometimes this can even make the children feel like the alcoholic’s erratic behavior is their fault.
Alcoholism and Money Problems
Alcoholism can wreak havoc on every aspect of a person’s life, including their finances. Money problems affect the whole family and can create a great deal of conflict and broken trust. Many alcoholics lose their jobs or drink away all their savings. It can be enormously stressful for the addicted person’s spouse and children to have to worry about being evicted or coming up with money for the rent.
The Genetic Aspect of Alcoholism
The connection between addiction and genetics is well established. In a nutshell, addiction is a heritable trait, and alcoholic parents may pass down addictive tendencies to their children. This is doubly dangerous for children who are raised in an environment where drinking is viewed as a normal way to deal with problems like feeling sad. Children who grow up in these homes are more likely to have access to alcohol from a young age and experiment with drinking in high school, or even earlier. Their genetic predisposition makes them more likely to become addicted at a young age, starting the cycle over again.
Alcoholism isn’t just a problem that affects individuals. The spouses and children of alcoholics are affected, too. However, with better education and resources for rehabilitation, alcoholism can be prevented and treated.