How to help an alcoholic’s family

The problems caused by alcoholism within the family are terrible and it causes more damage and pain than people realize. The impact of your drinking is usually different in each family member and your spouse may want to leave you and your children probably fear you.  Does this make you want to continue drinking? 

The silent sufferer in the disease of alcoholism in the family. There is a routine in most families where roles are defined and everyone works together. However, in an alcoholic family, the roles are distorted. For instance, if the father is the alcoholic he may be a great provider yet begins drinking as soon as he gets home from work so all the household duties and child-rearing fall to the wife. In situations when a job is lost, the non-alcoholic spouse is forced to find additional ways to provide for the family while the alcoholic is oblivious to the problem.

Family members begin to fall into a disorganized routine. They tend to ‘test’ the waters before talking about certain subjects for fear of angering the alcoholic. Older children may stop having friends over and may start spending more time away from home and the situation, which in turn may lead to more problems within the family.

Even though everyone in the family is treading lightly, the subject of alcoholism is rarely spoken of. There is still the feeling that a problem not acknowledged doesn’t exist. This is a very common problem among families who are dealing with alcoholism. They don’t know how to deal with the problem because alcoholism has many dimensions and stages. Not to mention alcoholism causes mood swings in the alcoholic that can be very dramatic. The family can feel loving and complete one moment and torn apart the next. There is no way to predict the alcoholic’s behavior.

What happens to the children of alcoholics?

Women who drink alcohol while pregnant can pass the substance through the placenta and it can harm a developing baby. Maternal drinking can cause a child to be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other types of irreversible physical and mental health defects. Children who are born into an alcoholic home can also experience severe effects from alcoholism and it can include; chronic depression, feelings of loneliness, fear of abandonment, guilt, low self-esteem, anxiety, and stress. To avoid having your children experience any of the ill effects of your drinking problem, seeking help from an alcohol rehab program should be done as soon as possible. Help is provided by a specialist team who understands the importance and seriousness of the situation.

What happens to the adult children of alcoholics?

Once the child or children of an alcoholic become adults, the effects of drinking on the family will have impacted their lives profoundly. They experience depression, anxiety, aggression, impulse control problems, trust, and relationship difficulties and may make poor decisions and choices. If you are the adult child of an alcoholic and find your drinking has spiraled out of control, then going into an alcohol treatment center for rehab is something you need to do.

How does alcoholism affect the spouse or partner of an alcoholic?

Alcoholism will transform your spouse or partner into someone you don’t even know. An alcoholic can place great strain on a partner and it can create mental and emotional issues for the other person. As an alcoholic progresses into the later phases of alcoholism, the spouse often takes over the role of care-taking and it can make them feel resentful and exhausted. Alcoholism makes it impossible for two people to communicate, causes divorce, makes it more likely the alcoholic will become an abuser, depletes the family finances, reduces intimacy and sexual desires, and increases anger and stress on all involved. If you live in Virginia and alcoholism is ruining your life, then it is time you look for a credible treatment program to help you become sober.

Tips for dealing with alcoholism

Perhaps you are not an alcoholic yourself, nevertheless if you are living with somebody who is you’re contending with alcoholism every single day. This is even more true when living with alcoholic parents. Sometimes, both parents will suffer from alcoholism, but other times only one will be afflicted. In some cases, the sober parent enables their alcoholic partner in an attempt to keep the peace or keep their spouse happy. While there is a stereotype of the alcoholic father, women are just as susceptible as men to alcohol addiction and abuse.

Living with an alcoholic can take a toll on you in many ways. Whether it is something new or something you’ve dealt with your whole life it is never easy to watch a close relative, friend, or especially a parent fall victim to alcoholism. Learning about this condition is the first step when it comes to helping alcoholics.

Be cautious with your approach to help

There are ways to help alcoholic parents, relatives, or friends. Gently broach the subject with them at a time when they are sober. Explain to them you are concerned about their health and feel their drinking patterns may cause them to harm in some way. It is important not to be confrontational or hostile even if you are angry, as the alcoholic may get defensive, deny their problem, or simply refuse to discuss it. However, with the right approach, some will admit their problem and express the desire for help.

Help for alcoholic individuals often comes in the form of a rehabilitation clinic, often called rehab. You hear about drunken celebrities going there all the time, but there are smaller, more affordable rehabilitation clinics for addicts and alcoholics all over the country. Some are even affiliated with hospitals and located on hospital grounds. Another way of dealing with alcoholism is to recruit a strong support system. This might mean attending AA meetings weekly or even more often and checking in with a buddy or sponsor who can help the alcoholic maintain their sobriety by talking them through temptation.

Alcoholism is a very real disease just like cancer and diabetes. The problem is it is not a socially acceptable disease. If your loved one was diagnosed with cancer you would have support from all sides. But when a loved one suffers from addiction there is a social stigma and an embarrassment to admit the problem.  However, someone who is in the grips of alcoholism needs medical treatment and support just like someone who has cancer.

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