Alcoholism doesn’t just impact the person who is drinking. Unfortunately, it has the ability to impact the entire family, and because this addiction often happens progressively, you may not realize there’s a problem until your family is already feeling the strain.
Because alcoholism isn’t always obvious, it can be very helpful to know how it affects families. If your family is dealing with any of these issues, you can bet that your loved one’s little habit has turned into something more serious.
Alcoholism isn’t an uncommon problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s something people feel comfortable talking about. There are many things you may not want to say to other friends and family members about what’s going on in your household, which can be extremely isolating.
Isolation can come with a wide range of its own problems, so it’s important to reach out if you’re feeling alone. Talk about what’s happening with other close family members, and attend an Al-Anon meeting. It’s a supportive group for friends and family of alcoholics, making it the perfect place to make connections and ensure you don’t feel like you’re alone.
It Can Create Marital Conflict
Conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a marriage. When addressed, it can make a marriage stronger. Unfortunately, when it comes to alcoholism, it often turns a once healthy, happy marriage into a toxic, unhealthy marriage.
You might argue about the amount of alcohol that is being consumed, but not all arguments are so direct. You might find yourself arguing with your spouse about coming home late or not helping with chores around the house.
Feelings of isolation mentioned previously can also cause marital strain. Alcoholism can create a rift between two people who once loved each other, making them feel distant. Avoiding every waking moment dealing with your spouse because of their drinking problem is just as bad as fighting about it on a daily basis.
It Makes Childhood Extremely Difficult
Drinking problems can make life difficult for the person with the problem and their significant other, but it can have a lifetime’s worth of effects on children.
Drinking negatively affects children in many ways including:
- It normalizes alcohol, making it difficult for children to establish good role models.
- If the person was mean or abusive, the child may be especially sensitive to anger.
- Children naturally blame themselves for problems, which means they may blame themselves for a loved one’s drinking problem.
- It can cause a wide range of attention-seeking behaviors.
- It can lead to future substance abuse problems.
Fortunately, other non-alcoholic family members have a huge impact on children too. Showing them how to deal with a loved one who is having problems can be just as powerful as growing up in a healthy household.
It Can Cause Financial Difficulties
It’s true that financial strain can cause adults to turn to alcohol, but the opposite can also be true. Sometimes, it’s the drinking that causes financial difficulties.
For example, an alcoholic may cause financial problems for the family by going on an online shopping spree while they have been drinking. They may have to take time off of work, which means smaller and fewer paychecks. Forgetful alcoholics may not pay important bills, and of course, the cost of alcohol can be a huge strain on a family that’s on a fixed income.
Financial difficulties are especially dangerous because they can affect many of the other items on this list. They can cause more marital strain, and they can make life difficult for children whose basic needs aren’t being met.
It Can Affect Everyone’s Health
Alcohol affects the body in some serious ways. Sustained drinking can cause heart, liver, and brain damage, but it doesn’t just affect the health of the person doing the drinking.
Stress is common among family members who are dealing with an alcoholic loved one, and stress can have some serious long-term effects on the body.
Not only can it cause mental health problems, like depression, but it can also lead to:
- Cardiovascular problems, like high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke.
- Gastrointestinal problems, like ulcerative colitis and gastritis.
- Skin and hair problems, like acne, psoriasis, and even permanent hair loss.
It’s never too late to get help for you and your family. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Many other families have struggled with and overcome the same problems, so you can feel confident that you can overcome a loved one’s alcohol problem too.