Alcohol addiction not only affects the addict but also their families. Alcoholism causes individuals to push away their family and loved ones, making them feel even more isolated and lonely. Additionally, those struggling with alcoholism often neglect their duties, including familial ones, causing the rest of the family members to adapt to not having them around or to enabling their addiction just to keep the peace.
Most people who abuse alcohol don’t come to terms with the fact that they are alcoholics. They find all kinds of excuses to justify their behavior and often blame something or someone else for their actions. This keeps them from dealing with the extent of their addiction.
Some of the most common excuses they employ include:
- I don’t drink every day.
- Everyone else is doing it.
- I only drink after work/on weekends etc.
- I can stop whenever I want.
- I deserve a drink after the day/week/month I’ve had.
- I only drink because I’m stressed/ depressed/ anxious, etc.
- It helps me do…better (socialize, work, sleep, speak in front of a crowd, etc)
The truth is, alcohol addiction isn’t only about the amount of alcohol consumed but also what it does to your body and how it influences you.
How Alcohol Addiction Affects Families
Alcohol abuse drives a wedge between spouses or other family members. It’s a large contributor to fights, neglect, emotional abuse, and other behaviors that end up harming the health and wellbeing of the family.
Here are some of the ways alcoholism can negatively affect the family unit:
Neglect of family duties.
A person who is dealing with an addiction to alcohol often prioritizes their drinking above everything else. They ignore their families, work, and other responsibilities. They might choose to go out drinking, forgetting to pick their kids from school or they might stay at home and get too drunk to take care of their children. Alternatively, their drinking might get to the point where they are just not good role models or breadwinners for the family. When this happens, other family members, including children, find themselves thrust into unfamiliar roles as they try to cope with the situation.
Alcoholism often goes hand in hand with financial difficulties. For starters, alcohol isn’t free. The cost of buying one’s favorite drink can run into hundreds of dollars per month, depending on the drink an individual favors. This money could be better spent taking care of the family. It’s not uncommon for alcoholics to even divert part or all of the family budget to buy their tipple.
Financial problems might also come if the person gets fired from work for absenteeism, showing up drunk or any other alcohol-induced misdemeanor. Furthermore, alcohol causes a loss of inhibition so those who regularly imbibe might have a range of other expensive habits such as gambling, which worsens their and their family’s financial woes.
The financial problems, irresponsible behavior, and neglect of duties all combine to cause marital troubles for alcoholics. Even worse, the lack of inhibition brought about by alcoholism can result in infidelity, domestic violence, and any other stressors that lead to a breakdown of the marriage. Being the spouse of an individual struggling with alcohol addiction isn’t easy. The spouse often ends up either enabling the behavior, becoming co-dependent on the alcoholic, or finding other problematic ways to adjust and live with the stressful situation.
Negative impact on children.
The negative impact of alcohol addiction isn’t limited to the spouse. Children are affected too, perhaps even more so. As mentioned earlier, an alcoholic parent almost always neglects their family duties, including being a good, responsible parent to their children. As a result, the kids end up with emotional problems including guilt, self-blame, anger, anxiety, and frustration over their parent’s drinking. These children can also go on to have problems in school and they might find it difficult to establish healthy relationships as they grow older.
The Importance of Family Therapy in Alcohol Addiction
One of the most effective treatment programs for alcohol addiction is family therapy. Involving the entire family in alcohol addiction treatment has been found to have a better outcome in relapse prevention and helping alcoholics remain sober.
Other benefits of family therapy include:
- Giving the family a better understanding of alcohol addiction and its effects on behavior. Family members get educated on alcoholism, its causes, and how they can help their loved one get better.
- It brings the family dynamics to light. During these therapy sessions, family members are encouraged to share how their loved one’s drinking has affected them. Seeing the impact that their alcohol abuse has had on their family sometimes motivates alcoholics to change their behavior for the better.
- It leads to improved communication. Those struggling with alcohol abuse aren’t the best communicators. Their addiction makes it hard to pay attention to anything else and as a result, their family members tend to hide or ignore their own needs. Family therapy helps to open up lines of communication within the family, helping them learn to articulate their needs, listen to each other, and be supportive.
- Family members learn to set healthy boundaries. Spouses taking care of alcoholics often change their behavior to accommodate their loved one’s drinking habit. During therapy, they are taught to prioritize their needs as well as set and clarify boundaries.
- Family therapy also gives family members a chance to ask questions, voice concerns, and have any issues clarified regarding alcohol addiction. They also provide the therapists with more information about the alcoholic’s lifestyle and habits and sometimes monitor their loved one’s symptoms for signs of relapse.
Get In Touch Today For Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Beating alcoholism doesn’t have to be a lonely battle. We at the Robert Alexander Center for Recovery in Kentucky are ready to aid you in your recovery. So don’t wait another day. Help is only a phone call away. Contact us on (502) 513-6242 and get started on your sobriety journey today.