Alcohol and Family Problems

Tragically, alcohol and family problems are a very common pairing, with alcoholism being a contributing factor to fights, divorce, and domestic violence.

The Relationship Between Alcohol and Family Problems

It is no secret that alcohol and family problems frequently go hand in hand. Alcoholism, or addiction to alcohol, is truly a family disease. In many cases, the family of alcoholics actually suffer more on a day-to-day basis than the alcoholic themselves. Alcoholism impacts every aspect of a family, including financial, emotional, legal, and physical. Because of this, alcohol can cause or worsen numerous family problems. In fact, alcohol is one of the leading factors  behind marital problems, divorce, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and strained relationships between parents and children.

The Effect of Alcohol Abuse on Children

Children whose parents suffer from an alcohol use disorder often notice certain troubling behaviors in their loved one. A mother or father may spend much of their free time away from family members drinking. For example, if a parent visits bars, they may miss out on family events, like a child’s after school activities.

Children with parents who drink often blame themselves for the parents’ uncontrollable behavior. This can damage healthy relationships between the child and the parent. Children often experience self-judgement and self-criticism due to their unstable home life. They may assume the responsibility of helping the parent, have an overly serious attitude, or see the world in a negative light.

The child may develop different emotions in response to seeing a drunk parent. They may feel afraid, angry, confused, or mistrustful. Sadly, they may witness more difficult outcomes of alcoholism in the home if one or more parents argue or fight due to alcohol abuse. This may lead to children thinking troubled and unstable family dynamics are normal.

Perhaps the most serious consequence is them repeating an unhealthy dynamic into adulthood. It is well known that children of alcoholics are considerably more likely to become alcoholics, or abusers of other substances, themselves. Additionally, some children of parents struggling with alcoholism risk becoming codependent. Codependent people may attract individuals struggling with substance abuse disorders, become people pleasers, and assume the role of a caretaker. Codependents often forgo their needs and desires in order to make others happy.

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Domestic Abuse and Alcoholism

One of the most serious instances of alcohol and family problems is domestic violence. Because of behavioral differences alcohol may cause, a relative suffering alcoholism can be dangerous to be around. Family members can express violence to their spouses or children. 75% of domestic violence acts include a parent abusing drugs, and alcohol is by far the most common. While alcohol abuse is never an excuse for or the only contributing factor to domestic violence, it is involved in the majority of incidents. It is also true that alcohol can cause someone to react more emotionally and with lowered inhibitions.

Divorce and Alcoholism


Spouses who drink may combat depressive episodes, feeling isolated from the rest of their family. Watching a relative or spouse drink can encourage stress, mistrust and acceptance of alcohol abuse disorders as reality.

On the other hand, the spouse who does not drink may become increasingly frustrated when their spouse is not helpful around the house, or not emotionally available. Furthermore, a spouse may become an enabler, denying the severity of the drinking problem. Families may separate, or married couples may opt for divorce.

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Expectant Mothers and Alcoholism

If an expectant mother drinks too much, she can expose her unborn child to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FADS). One such alcohol-related health condition that impacting babies is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). According to the CDC, 0.2 to 1.5 infants out of 1,000 births have FAS. Babies born with FAS are affected by physical disabilities and learning disabilities.

Save Your Family and Take Control

Unfortunately, many with alcohol use disorders don’t realize the impact on their family. Often times, denial is a big part of not taking control of one’s drinking habits. One may not realize how easy it is to get help, but there are treatment providers waiting to take your call. A treatment provider can guide your family member to the best rehab for them. The treatment provider will also answer questions regarding rehab, 12-step programs, and treatments. With all the options for help available, steps to sobriety can begin now.

What are you struggling with?

There are many different forms of addiction. Get the information you need to help you overcome yours.

Treatment providers are waiting for your call

(877) 648-4288


Treatment providers are waiting for your call

(877) 648-4288