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Alcoholism Effects on Family: What You Should Know

Alcoholism effects on family are tremendous. Because alcoholism is essentially a family disease. The alcoholic doesn’t just suffer in isolation with no one else in the family effected – but rather alcoholism is like a virus that spreads and affects you as the family in numerous ways, sometimes with subtlety and others with sheer brutality. And unfortunately no one can predict the lasting and sometimes irreparable damage that it causes.

A lot depends on the nature of the alcoholic in question – because when drunk a certain prevailing personality type tends to come out. Some alcoholics quietly drink themselves into a stupor and usually don’t draw undue attention to themselves, but will happily draw you into their sorry web with their sad stories and how they’re a victim of their circumstances. They’re quite good at getting you to feel sorry for them and are extremely manipulative in how they get you to side with them against the rest of the world, but more importantly often against other members of your family. My mother used to fall into this category I would say.

Other alcoholics tend to get loud, abusive and obnoxious – and can often end up behaving extremely erratically. Physical violence and emotional abuse are common. Family members live in real fear because they know how brutal the alcoholic can become. Usually the wife bears the brunt of the abuse and violence, but children are not immune because the Effects of Alcoholism on Children can be severe. The alcoholic is like a walking time-bomb and family members tend to walk on egg shells because real fear is an ever-lasting companion.

The above two scenarios are probably on extreme ends of the scale, but the point is that the effects of alcoholism on families is dramatic, the impact severe and the untold damage caused almost impossible to predict.

Affects of Alcoholism: Lies, Deceipt, Silence and Shame

Because alcoholism is also a progressive disease, families are often slow to take any action, if they ever do anything at all. Initially it’s easy to justify the alcoholics drinking and cling onto the hope that things will get better, often reinforced by the constant promises the alcoholic makes that they will change. But as things get worse, family members tend to lie and deceive to help cover up the problem, and so inadvertently end up enabling the alcoholics behaviour. Because of the unfortunate stigma and shame attached to alcoholism, no one wants to admit the problem that exists in the family and so a family carries the heavy burden of what’s going on in silence rather than taking a stand and calling in someone to help.

And so as a family member living in a constant state of anxiety and shame, lying and covering up constantly will have long-term negative effects - which can range from depression to anxiety to having trust and intimacy issues, to poor self esteem and self loathing. Each individual impacted by alcoholism effects on family will react differently and so it’s impossible to predict the outcome - except that it’s practically impossible to develop a healthy and loving self image if exposed to such an environment for an extended period.

Solutions to the Affect of Alcoholism

The sooner you address and face the problem head on the better. Because by doing nothing, the alcoholic will just get worse. Understand that Alcoholism is a Disease and that it requires specialist treatment and help if successful recovery is ever going to be achieved. So the best thing you can do for the alcoholic is start creating boundaries whereby their drinking and related behaviour becomes unacceptable to you, and if that doesn’t motivate them to get help, you should seriously consider enlisting the help of a professional who can help you as family perform an Alcoholism Intervention to try and get the alcoholic the help and treatment they so desperately need.

And because alcoholism is a family disease, connecting with other family members who have been through what you are going through, and so can offer their help and support can make the world of difference. This is where a group like Al Anon (for family members of alcoholics) can be such a powerful thing to help you deal with the problem you as family face. With the devastating effects of alcoholism on families, there is tremendous healing you as a family also need to go through, so having a program like Al Anon to help you, gives you as the family the best possible chance of recovery.

I’d like to leave you with this because another alcoholism effects on family is the guilt you carry because somehow you believe there is always something else or something more you should be doing. Understand that the responsibility of alcoholism rests entirely with the alcoholic – and unless they’re open and ready to receive help, there isn’t a lot you can do. This is where knowing the 3C’s of Addiction in relation to a family member affected by alcoholism is so crucial: You didn’t Cause their alcoholism, You can’t Control their alcoholism, and neither can you Cure their alcoholism.

The sooner you make peace with these facts, the sooner you can start the journey of your own recovery in relation to someone you love affected by alcoholism. You may be powerless over their addiction, but you aren’t powerless over the choices you make in response to the circumstances you find yourself in, and that the power to find your own peace and happiness lies with you.

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