Although from the outside it seems that alcoholism only affects the person who is addicted, it has also been known as a family disease. While an alcoholic’s addictive behavior can take a serious toll on the entire family, it’s important to understand the role that it plays on all family members to successfully treat the disease. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration), seventy-six million American adults have been exposed to alcoholism in the family. Alcoholism is responsible for more family problems than any other single cause.
Having an alcoholic family member can disrupt a normal, healthy dynamic, creating a host of problems that lead to dysfunction. The impact of the drinker’s addiction is usually manifested differently with each family member and can often have long-term implications. For the family as a whole, life is a constant stressor because whatever may happen each day is completely out of their control. Life is often unpredictable and can feel unsafe. Additionally, family members can become enablers as they make excuses for the alcoholic. However, the cycle continues as they helplessly watch the drinker seem oblivious as to how much he or she is hurting the other members of the family.
Children of Alcoholics
Women who drink during pregnancy pass the drug to their unborn baby each time they consume alcohol. This causes babies to be born with irreversible physical and mental birth defects. This condition is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, severe damage from FAS affects around 5000 babies every year; additionally, 35000 babies are born with milder damage from FAS.
For a child born without birth defects, a parent’s alcoholism can have a profound effect on a child in the household. Children may feel like they are somehow to blame for alcoholic behavior. Many of these children have common symptoms including:
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of guilt and despair
- Fear of abandonment
- Chronic depression
- High levels of anxiety and stress
Children of alcoholics tend to also experience a great deal of uncertainty and instability in their lives and are at an increased risk of witnessing domestic violence, sexual abuse, or experiencing it themselves.
Spouse or Partner of an Alcoholic
Once an addiction progresses, the non-drinking spouse’s role can turn into a care-taking one, creating feelings of self-pity, and resentment. Additionally, marriage often suffers from:
- Poor communication
- Reduced intimacy
- Increased anger
- Depleting finances spent on alcohol
Although alcoholism can seem like a disorder that only affects the individual, it affects every member of the family and may continue to do so even if the alcoholic quits drinking. Family members of those who struggle with alcoholism must learn to practice self-care, and self-soothing tools. Alcoholism is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. Family members must remember they didn’t cause it, can’t control it, and can’t cure it. They can always become aware that they have been affected by someone’s alcoholism and gain support from others.
We believe in family involvement when it comes to the treatment of alcoholism, that’s why at Restore Health and Wellness we engage our patients in a strong family program. When it comes to alcoholism treatment, our addiction specialists have decades of combined experience in evidence-based therapies and holistic approaches. The negative consequences of alcoholism are severe, but there are numerous effective treatment options available at Restore Alcohol Rehab Center. Visit our alcohol rehab center in Encino, CA at 6918 Owensmouth Ave Canoga Park, CA 91303. 24/7 Admissions (818) 722-9019. On-Site Contact (818) 806-3914.