Alcohol Addiction Effects on the Family
Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disease that progressively — and slowly — grows worse. The effects of chronic heavy drinking on the alcoholic are well-known and severe, and even quitting suddenly can be dangerous without professional help.
Too many, unfortunately, forget those who are close to the individual struggling with alcoholism also suffer severe consequences themselves. Alcohol addiction’s long-term effects encompass everyone in the family — not just the person who drinks.
Enabling an Alcoholic
No one wakes up in the morning, samples an alcoholic beverage and decides, today, I think I’ll become an alcoholic. Alcoholism begins with casual abuse that grows more frequent and intense over a lengthy period of time.
The early stages of alcoholism often resemble normal drinking. People who chronically abuse alcohol but who are not dependent on it may appear to drink just as much as someone who drinks to avoid withdrawal.
As the alcoholism grows more severe, loved ones, especially children, learn very quickly how to adjust. A spouse might blame his wife’s drinking on her recent bad luck and call in sick to work for her. Kids learn quickly when to ask a parent for a favor and when to leave a drinking parent alone. A close friend might agree to keep a drunk driving arrest or other indiscretion secret.
As time passes, the alcoholic’s behaviors worsen and intensify. Before anyone can realize, the little white lies cause anger, bitterness, resentment and fear.
If you have ever struggled to understand a loved ones addiction to alcohol, you can learn more about what it’s like to be an alcoholic in this empathetic exploration of alcoholism.
In an ideal world the sober family members would rally to each other’s sides for support. Alcoholism, however, often negatively affects the relationships between nonalcoholic family members.
For example a long-suffering non-alcoholic spouse might be angry one minute, depressed the next, only to then rescue the alcoholic from an arrest, financial problem or other serious consequence of drinking. Faced with a seemingly unending prospect of caring for the family and household responsibilities alone, bitterness and exhaustion builds.
Others learn to stay clear of the sober, burdened family member while continuing to protect the alcoholic. This deepens the alcoholism, increases the resentment and causes even more emotional damage
Talking to Your Loved One
If someone in your family is addicted to alcohol, you can play an important role in getting your loved one professional help. If you decide to talk to your struggling family member, keep in mind that she may make promises to quit that she will be unable to keep.
She may also deny that drinking is a problem. In fact, the worse the addiction, the stronger the denial. Alcoholism is a disease characterized by physical dependency, an inability to control how much or how often one drinks, continuing to drink despite severe lifestyle consequences — and denial. However, don’t put off getting a loved one help as time is critical, especially if they are in an urgent situation such as pregnancy or health complications.
Don’t give up hope if your loved one resists getting help. At 12 Keys Rehab, our staff can help you convince your family member to get treatment.
Our interventionist will fly to wherever you are to arrange and manage the meeting. During intervention, you and others will confront your loved one about her behavior.
After the intervention, if it is successful, our interventionist will enroll her in our residential treatment plan, where she will benefit from comprehensive holistic treatments and therapies that teach how to live a sober lifestyle. If the intervention does not appear to work, keep in mind that many recovered alcoholics point to a “failed” intervention as the turning point that led to seeking treatment.
Finally remember you do not have to wait until rock bottom before getting help for your loved one. Not only does this allow the disease to worsen, it also increases the damage done to you and your sober family members. With early treatment and family dynamics therapy, you and your family can live healthier, more satisfying lives.