Alcoholism has always been a health and family problem. The effects of this disease on the alcoholic are hazardous, and in the meanwhile, the family gets victimized too. Many people want to know how exactly the term alcoholism is defined, whether it can be treated, and whether it is hereditary. The answers to all these is right here. Every year, many households around the world lose one adult, in the form of a mother or father, due to alcoholism. Every year, there are divorces and separations of families due to alcoholism. Every year, many babies suffer from the Fetal Alcoholic Syndrome (FAS), and are born with birth defects. Every year, more alcoholics are enrolled in rehabilitation centers all over the world. These are just a few examples that tell you how alcoholism affects families; there are undoubtedly more. Children of alcoholics are more prone to turning into alcoholics themselves. All this, and much more, in the information below.
Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Before knowing how alcoholism affects families, it is important to understand the concept of alcoholism itself. Earlier known as dipsomania, alcoholism is one of the most common addictions we see today. Medically, it is also called a 'disabling addictive disorder' and also a 'treatable disease'. People who suffer from alcoholism are known as alcoholics. Alcoholics know the dangers this addiction poses, but still compulsively drink every single day, and in a quantity that is highly uncontrolled by them. Alcoholism is one of the leading factors for family disputes today, and deaths too. This term was first used by Magnus Huss in the year 1849. Alcohol abuse is when an alcoholic drinks even though he can see the negative effects of his drinking on his personal and social life. Another term, called alcohol dependence, is when a person drinks even after being diagnosed with health problems related to the excess consumption of alcohol. Medically, there is a considerable difference between these terms. However, as common people, we can refer to all as alcoholism itself. Now that we know what all these terms mean, let's proceed further and see their effects.
Examples of How Alcoholism Can Affect Families
As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did -- then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the hideous Four Horsemen -- Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair.
~ ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, The Big Book
~ ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, The Big Book
The finances of a family are hit the worst by alcoholism. Alcohol doesn't come cheap, and certainly not the amount that alcoholics are used to drinking. The money that should actually go in savings for the family, goes in drinking. There are a numerous examples of people who have gone bankrupt due to this addiction. The health problems caused due to this addiction require treatment, which again hampers the budget. If the alcoholic needs to visit a rehab, that is again going to cost some money. Alcoholism affects a person's professional life, and he might have to change jobs regularly, which again is going to have a financial impact on the family of that person.
If you want to know how alcoholism manages to affect families forever, this is your answer. Living with an alcoholic is no easy life. The withdrawal symptoms, the guilt, and the continuous feeling of doing something wrong, adds to the frustrations, which eventually adds to suffocation. This frustration comes out on the spouse and on the children too. Physical and mental abuse due to alcohol is one of the leading problem households face today due to alcoholism. The victim himself / herself becomes very vulnerable. There is a lot of anxiety, which can also lead to depression. All these unstable emotions make the environment in the house very unstable.
Tortured Mental Development of Children
Alcoholic parents are a nightmare for their children. Alcoholism brings with it problems such as violence. These problems affect the children in many ways but one. Children do not feel as though they are a part of the family, and have a tough time being accepted. Sometimes, parents blame their drinking on their children, which makes them feel guilty for no fault of their own. To escape this guilt, they start drinking too. This is why alcoholism runs in families. Another perspective here is drinking while pregnant. This leads to FAS, as we discussed before, and abnormal growth of the baby. There are various programs available for the children of drinking parents, and these children are identified as Children of Alcoholics (COAs) and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOAs). These children also become very impulsive and might be affected by depression.
The Dangers of Infidelity
Most of the women who want to how does alcoholism affect families, have been suspecting another woman in their husband's life. This doubt is certainly not hollow, as men who drink a lot, usually try to find a comfort zone outside their home, where their drinking won't be questioned. A lot of alcoholics indulge in infidelity, as this seems a good escape from all the nagging and the pressure of responsibility. They basically just want someone to tell them that their drinking is normal. Sometimes, men are also prone to indulging in prostitution, another effect of alcoholism. All these problems affect the family in terms of stability and togetherness.
Socially, a lot of pressures start affecting the family of the alcoholic. Alcoholics are famous in their social circle, as they drink in front of everyone and not just at home. The behavior of the alcoholic towards his family in the social circle is an embarrassment that is not so easy to deal with. When the family is not accompanying the alcoholic, people will still observe the problem and report it to the family members. The children might be teased at school and college. Social gatherings and functions become a taboo, as attending them will become an insult to both the parties.
If you know an alcoholic, help him out and show him the effects his drinking is having on the family. Not everyone has a family, and it is thus important for us to value those who are close to us. The effects of alcoholism on a family and on friends are so disastrous, that they can leave the victim alone. Not lonely, but alone, something not everyone can deal with. No addiction has ever done good, so help yourself before others have to!