Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can drive a wedge in most families. This can be due to lack of supervision, finances, fighting, ignoring health problems, and other problems that come up as the abuse continues. In one study by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 60 percent of married couples were found to have gotten into physical altercations after consuming alcohol. In time, alcohol can change someone’s personality, keeping the addiction alive and straining familial ties. With most alcoholics, drinking becomes the most important priority, which can cause other emotional and financial problems for the family.
In addition, family members may get used to alcohol as a tradition, letting the practice continue for generations, and causing damage for many years even though the harmful effects are evident.
Some major problems on the family include:
- Family Neglect: A person struggling with alcoholism may not pay attention to anyone else, putting alcohol above all other priorities, including their own health.
- Neglect of Important Duties: Alcoholics may not want to go to work, school, or other functions. They may get so absorbed into drinking that they develop depression and refuse to participate in normal activities.
- Nursing Hangovers: Individuals with a drinking problem may not be able to go to work because they are physically ill from drinking. While this is temporary, they can experience hangovers that last all day or multiple days, leading to poor health and depression.
- Legal Problems: DUIs are often associated with alcoholism because individuals don’t realize how impaired they are, and they end up getting behind the wheel. This puts a great strain on home life from a financial perspective, as well as marital strain. It can also wind up hurting others or result in death.
- Inability to Stop: Since alcohol is addictive, it can lead to a dependency that doesn’t can’t just be stopped. There could be physical health problems associated with detox.
- Isolation and Irritability: Many family members who drink don’t want to be interrupted or criticized for their addiction so they’ll drink alone or get irritable when they are asked to join in other activities where drinking isn’t permissible.
The Cost of Alcohol on the Family
Financial troubles and alcoholism go hand in hand. It’s likely that if you have someone addicted to alcohol in your family, they aren’t able to keep a job or they have a hard time saving money to spend on other important items. Even if a strict financial adviser began an alcohol habit and set aside a budget, they would still rack up expenses from going to bars to buying multiple alcoholic drinks every day. In essence, this abuse leads to serious financial troubles, but it’s not just because of the cost of the alcohol itself.
Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and makes you believe that you need things when you could just as easily not buy something. You may have impulses to buy something at the moment while impaired. However, people can also easily take advantage of a person under the influence, and even if you decide to simply drink at home, a person is still able to use their credit card to purchase things that they never would have bought otherwise.
However, these stories are only minor compared to the real long-term financial problems of alcohol. As many of the homeless can attest, drinking is the start of a financial drain that can affect your job and home life. You may lose your job for missing one too many days nursing a hangover, or you may be caught with alcohol at work. Productivity may slow down, leading to questions about a person’s performance.
There are cases of individuals struggling with alcoholism who accidentally got physical because they are inebriated, leading to jail time. Even worse, 28 people die daily from an alcohol-related car accidents. DUIs are the result of individuals who don’t realize how their blood alcohol content is affected when they drink, but they will result in catastrophic financial and legal trouble that also affects the family.
The Effects of Alcohol on Your Marriage
Alcohol abuse leads to a lot of stress on the family, whether it’s a child, parent, older parent, or an extended family member. There is always someone who receives the brunt of an alcoholic rant, or a child who is put in danger because the person doesn’t realize how inebriated they are.
In marriage, spouses are meant to support one another. It can feel like one is enabling the other at times because they want to be supportive and helpful, while not realizing the effects of drinking on everything else. They may even partake in drinking together, but there are a host of problems associated with drinking.
- Marital strife and fighting
- Domestic violence
- Unplanned pregnancy
- Financial instability
Financial instability and marital strife often go hand in hand. There may be stress to work, but stress is typically a trigger for an alcoholic. If one in the marriage is a caregiver, it can be difficult to stop the problems before they become too great, leading to more abuse.
Alcohol and its Effects on Children
Studies have shown that children in alcoholic families tend to become codependent on a loved one’s drinking problems. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, about 20% of adult Americans lived with a relative who abused alcohol when they were a teenager. These children grow up to have greater emotional problems, which can also lead to alcohol addiction. Drinking can be a source of confusion and depression, leading to even worse cases of abuse.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism or abuse, contact us for help.