Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Your Family

Friday, November 29th, 2013

The effects of alcohol abuse on an individual’s body are well documented, but what about the way alcohol abuse affects a family? We know that alcohol addiction can have a serious lasting impact on family dynamics and each member of a family. This is one of the reasons why treatment for addiction is so important; you’re not just healing yourself, you’re working towards repairing your family.

The Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Family

Each family member will likely be affected differently by alcohol abuse. The repercussions of alcoholism are complex and it’s difficult to predict just how each individual or family will respond. Several factors contribute to the effects of alcohol abuse on the family, including which member of the family is addicted, the degree of their addiction, and the type of alcoholic they are. The family’s socio-economic situation and the age of each family member can also dictate how they may be affected.

Physical Effects

If a woman suffers from alcoholism while pregnant, there is a possibility of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that 35,000 babies are born each year with mild forms of FAS, with an additional 5,000 showing severe damage.

Alcoholism can sometimes result in physical effects of alcohol abuse on the family. Whether it is the father, mother, or a sibling who is battling addiction, family members may experience some physical violence. This could be a one-time event or it may be repeated over the course of a childhood or marriage.

Psychological Effects

Children of alcoholics tend to exhibit low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, abandonment, and depression. They may be embarrassed by their family member and try to hide their home life or fear going to school. Families with an alcoholic present may experience a stressful home life, which is not conducive to studying or even relaxing. The children of alcoholics sometimes struggle with schoolwork due to lack of a peaceful environment or parental support.

The effects of alcohol abuse can damage family relationships as well. A report by Dr. Robert J. Ackerman indicates that if a woman is married to a male alcoholic and there are children under 18 in the family, she will stay with him 9 out of 10 times. In the opposite scenario, when the man is married to an alcoholic, there is a 1 in 10 chance that he’ll stay. The differences between men and women manifest themselves in alcoholism and family relationships, and the ripple effect on the rest of the family can be strong.

Long-Term Effects

Although there are signs that alcoholism has some genetic links, it does not mean that the child of an alcoholic is destined to develop an addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism cites the statistic that more than half of children of alcoholics do not become alcoholics themselves. However, the long-term behavioral and emotional effects of alcohol abuse on the family can last for many years. Family therapy can be a useful tool to help the entire family heal as an alcoholic seeks treatment.