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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 an alcoholic actually suffers 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.
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Alcohol Problems That Affect Children
There are an estimated 26.8 million children of alcoholics in the United States. Children whose parents suffer from an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) 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. When preoccupied with drinking, parents may miss out on family events like a child’s after school activities.
Children with parents who drink often blame themselves for their parent’s 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 normalize troubled and unstable family dynamics for children.
Perhaps the most serious consequence is them repeating an unhealthy dynamic into adulthood. Children of alcoholics are 4 times more likely to development an AUD in adulthood. 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 the 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 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 emotionally and with lowered inhibitions.
Divorce And Alcoholism
Spouses who drink may combat depressive episodes because they feel 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 is emotionally unavailable. Furthermore, a spouse may become an enabler, denying the severity of their partner’s drinking problem. Families may separate, or married couples may opt for divorce.
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Expectant Mother’s Alcohol Problems
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 can impact 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.
Helping A Loved One With An AUD
It is often not clear how to help a loved one with an AUD or even how to address their unhealthy drinking habits. Attempting to fix or change their behavior will likely not be successful, instead present concerns in an informed and calm manner. This might help the family member with an AUD clearly understand the concerns and could inspire them to seek help. Timing can make or break this kind of conversation. A time when all parties are well-rested and clearheaded is ideal. Blaming, lecturing, and shaming is not helpful in this situation.
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. However, there is help available. Contact a treatment provider for rehab-related support. The treatment provider will also answer questions regarding rehab, 12-step programs, and treatments.
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