Here is a close look at five possible effects of alcoholism on American families:
1. Damaged Family Relationships
One way in which alcoholism affects families is in damaged relationships. Families of people affected by alcohol abuse often struggle to create strong emotional bonds, even within their family unit. This starts with the parents.
In one study from the University at Buffalo, heavy drinking was connected to lower marital satisfaction. The study also found that alcoholism increased the risk of negative interactions, especially among couples.
In addition, people battling alcoholism tend to lie about their condition, minimizing its effect on the family. This destroys trust and makes it difficult for other family members to build strong relationships with the individual.
2. Developmental Issues In Neglected Children
Children of parents who struggle with alcoholism are at higher risk for cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems. Since an estimated 6.6 million children live in households where alcoholism is present, this is a significant concern.
Sadly, parents who are struggling with alcohol addiction are often neglectful of both the physical and emotional needs of their children. This leads to serious developmental issues for the kids.
Some of the problems children experience in homes where alcoholism is present include:
- academic problems
- anxiety and depression
- poor emotional development
- difficulty with intimate relationships as adults
- a tendency to be dishonest
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3. Domestic Abuse
One of the most sobering effects of alcoholism is an increased risk for domestic abuse within the family. Abuse tied to alcoholism can be either emotional or physical in nature.
People battling alcoholism may insult their family members, manipulate them, or humiliate them. These are all forms of emotional abuse.
Physical violence is also a serious issue. The World Health Organization reports that 55 percent of physical assault cases between intimate partners occurred when the perpetrator had been drinking.
Because alcohol use lowers their self-control levels by affecting cognitive and physical functioning, people who drink are more prone to acting violently when frustrated.
4. Drained Family Finances
The habit of consuming alcohol on a regular basis is expensive. While the total amount spent on alcohol will vary depending on the frequency and type chosen, the costs add up.
It is not uncommon for someone battling this addiction to spend over $1,000 a month on alcohol. That is money that the family could use in other ways, and this financial cost takes a toll on the family’s overall well being.
5. Physical And Mental Health Issues
Finally, a battle with alcoholism affects the physical and mental health of most members of the family. The individual fighting addiction will deal with physical health issues because of the impact of excessive alcohol consumption.
Some common problems include liver disease, digestive system problems, damage to the brain, and risk for stroke.
Mental health problems are also a risk for these families. The anxiety and stress that alcoholism brings to a family will wear down the emotional health of all involved.
Family members of those fighting alcoholism may also struggle with guilt and feelings that they somehow are the cause of their loved one’s disorder.
Why So Many U.S. Families Are Affected By Alcoholism
Between 2002 and 2013, drinking rates among US adults rose substantially, with more people reaching problem drinking levels as a result. High-stress levels in modern society increase the demand for today’s adults, and as a result, more and more are turning to alcohol to self-medicate.
It doesn’t take long for occasional alcohol use to turn into binge drinking, and binge drinking to turn into an addiction. Unfortunately, when addiction develops, it’s the families that suffer.
Alcoholism Is A Family Disease, But Help Is Available For All
Alcoholism is a disease that affects all members of the family. When someone is battling alcoholism and is ready to get help, getting help for the entire family is crucial to bringing about full healing and lasting change.
At Turning Point, we offer alcohol addiction treatment and a family support program that ensures everyone, not just the person suffering from addiction, gets the help they need.
With help from our Family Support Program, your family can start to heal, change, and begin building healthy relationships. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help.
- Huffington Post — The Amount Of Money You Spend On Drinking May Blow Your Mind
- National Institute On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism — Children Of Alcoholics - Are They Different?
- NPR — Drinking On The Rise In US
- University at Buffalo — RIA Reaching Others: Does Drinking Affect Marriage?
- Washington Post — Study Says One In Eight Adults Is An Alcoholic
- WebMD — Alcohol Consumption Among Women Is On The Rise
- World Health Organization — Intimate Partner Violence And Alcohol