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Alcohol Addiction: How It Impacts Families?

Alcohol Addiction: How It Impacts Families?



Alcohol addiction is a well-known health hazard and has been quite common lately. Apart from health, it has a massive impact on one’s social status, finance, and mental health. Alcoholism not only impacts the individual consuming alcohol but has a negative and hazardous effect on their families and loved ones too. The impact of alcoholism on family manifests in a multitude of forms. Alcohol addicts often find themselves ignoring responsibilities towards their families and work Families of alcohol-dependent individuals face several challenges including violence, disruption of family rituals, separation, divorce, inappropriate role models, and economic difficulties.

Alcohol dependence does not burst into the family the way a chronic health issue would; instead, it creeps in slowly and silently. By the time it’s detected, it has already left its mark on each family member.

Alcohol dependence is not a condition that can be completely cured. It is a chronic and relapsing condition that will always topple the individual back to the same situation of dependence in the absence of self-discipline and necessary support from family members.

Treating Alcohol Dependence Syndrome (ADS), therefore, involves more than just getting people with addiction to stop consuming alcohol. Counselling the family about their involvement in the recovery, readapting, and rehabilitation of their loved ones with alcohol dependence is also crucial.

How Addiction Impacts Families

  • Relationships: It can be any relationship; marital, parent-child, siblings, or romantic partners that can fall prey to alcohol addiction. As alcohol consumption tends to increase, the individual may get too attached to the habit. They may even get offended if anyone tries to point it out. Also, they may end up indulging more in alcohol and avoid spending time with their loved ones. All these would eventually affect the quality of their relationship with others.
  • Domestic violence: In many places, alcoholism and domestic violence go hand in hand. Though there are no research studies to reinforce alcohol addiction as a cause of domestic violence, it could be a possibility nevertheless. Under the influence of alcohol, individuals are highly susceptible to make poor judgments, which could have long-standing repercussions. Scenarios of domestic violence, aggressive erratic behaviour towards others are some of them.
  • Children: If the parents or elders around the family are alcoholics; the children around may get affected in ways that are easily overlooked. Children learn from observation, and if the alcoholic behaviour of elders is accepted (no one is protesting against it), the child may learn it and assume that such behaviour is ‘okay’. If there is physical abuse associated with alcoholism, the child may also pick that up, which is worse. 

Alcoholic parents often ignore their responsibilities and their child’s physical and emotional needs. There are certain scenarios where children are compelled to take up household responsibilities because one of their parents is too much engrossed in alcohol. There is a high chance that children who are exposed to this addictive habit from a young age tend to end up getting involved in alcoholism later in their lives.

  • Social: Alcoholism also tends to affect an individual’s social status. Due to the addictive habit, individuals may end up ignoring their responsibilities. As a result, their performance may decline in the workplace, further hampering their reputation. There are also possibilities of getting involved in criminal acts such as stealing or fraud to fulfill their addiction. These unpredictable actions put not only the individual but also the family member’s social status in jeopardy.

Family Therapy

Family can play a pivotal role in helping alcohol addicts in their quitting and recovery process. Family therapy can work wonders. It not only includes visitation hours for the family members throughout the week but also educational classes to help them understand the behaviour of the alcoholic. The therapy also teaches them how to communicate their concerns to the recovering addict and helps in mending the relationships that have been broken due to the alcoholic’s drinking problem. It can also help the addict recover faster, as the family works as a strong support system. 

How Can Family Help In Aiding Recovery?

The importance of family in the recovery of an alcohol addict is highly significant. The interactions and consequent social reinforcements from within the family environment may often influence alcohol-related behaviours. Hence, the involvement of significant others is an important component in altering an alcoholic’s drinking habit pattern. Research also indicates that the involvement of family members by changing the contingencies within the environment can alter an alcoholic’s drinking behaviour.

Here are some of the best practices that need to be followed by family members to help in their loved ones addiction recovery process.

Say No to Suspecting:

Alcohol addiction is quite difficult to overcome and it often makes the family members, especially spouses to become very suspicious of their partner’s behaviour. Some spouses may even go to lengths of checking their partners’ belongings or smelling their clothes. Be aware that such mistrust is only going to aggravate the issues and may compel the addict to go back to previous alcohol consumption patterns.

Learn to Trust:

Alcohol addicts often tend to ignore their familial, social, and financial responsibilities. So, even though they are abstaining, family members and spouses may not ask them for their say or validation in important decisions in the household. This may make the addict feel unappreciated and they may go back to a drinking stupor. It is essential to learn to trust your loved ones when they say they have been sober and encourage them to remain sober.

Avoid Past Behaviour Discussions:

Families discussing an addict’s past behaviour and the consequences are not uncommon. Some even may criticize and condemn their past activities in front of others. Be sure to avoid such scenarios as it may negatively impact the individual’s abstinence determination.

Rehash the Home Environment:

Following the abstinence intervention, try to rehash your home environment; try to eliminate all the cues that indicate past alcohol consumption and related activities in the home setting. Such cues may trigger drink cravings and there might be a high chance of relapse.

Reinforce and Appreciate Good Behaviour:

Family members, friends, and well-wishers must appreciate and reward the individual’s abstinence from alcohol. Consistent reinforcement from all the loved and closed ones of an individual with alcohol dependence always helps in maintaining abstinence.

Encourage Creative Hobbies:

Try to engage the individual in creative and pleasurable activities. Encourage them to develop certain hobbies at home, going for marketing, teaching children, etc.

 Improve Communication at Home:

Most often the individuals with alcohol dependence tend to develop dysfunctional communication patterns with family members during their excessive alcohol intake. This leads the family members to develop a specific pattern of communication and the interactions may involve criticism and contempt.

Post abstinence intervention, family members should try to broach a positive, and adaptive communication pattern and avoid disrespectfully addressing the individual.

Identify Risk Factors and Behaviours for Relapse:

Certain potential risk factors such as being in specific situations, stressors at home or work, crisis and conflicts, and certain emotional states may trigger a relapse in an abstaining individual.

The caregiver must identify these situations, especially the factors which previously used to trigger alcohol intake, and take necessary steps to reinforce and encourage alcohol abstinence. Whenever the recovering individual experiences such potential risk situations, their significant others must encourage therapeutic interventions, if necessary, so that a potential relapse can be prevented by handling such triggering factors.

Ensure Periodic Follow-up:

To continue persistent abstinence, it is essential to maintain a consistent follow-up with the treating professionals. Frequently, individuals with alcohol dependence and their family members tend to discontinue meeting treating professionals once the individual achieves a short period of abstinence.

Maintaining follow-up can identify and evaluate any potential risk factors for relapse and accordingly help the individual to prevent relapsing situations. Hence, the spouse and family must encourage and bring the recovering individual consistently for periodic follow up with the professionals.

Why choose Cadabams?

We put our 28+ years of expertise to ensure that the individual suffering from addiction gets the treatment they need and deserve. Our multispecialty team of psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, physicians work round the clock. We offer world-class evidence-based treatment that is fit for all stages and all types of addiction. We areis widely trusted by various healthcare experts to provide addiction relief with care and love. Our drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, Anunitha is a comfortable facility with state-of-the-art infrastructure where we provide a holistic treatment plan for addiction recovery. We develop personalised treatment options to ensure steady rehabilitation and equip the family members or caregivers with adequate tips to assist in their loved ones’ recovery journey.

Alcohol addiction recovery is a long and exhausting process. If you or your loved one is practicing abstinence and need assistance, don’t hesitate to seek professional and proven treatment. Call us for help at +919611194949 or visit Cadabam’s Anunitha.

Disclaimer – We strive to treat our patients with dignity and the utmost sensitivity. We understand that addiction is a disease and that it is not a sign of weakness. The term alcoholic, alcoholism or addicts is used not in a derogatory fashion but to remain relevant to user search trends and common usage.– It is important to note that addiction should be referred to as ‘substance use disorder’ to better address the effects of this psychological condition. Words like addict, junkie, etch should be avoided as they place the blame on the individual. Individuals/person/people suffering from substance use disorder or substance dependence syndrome should be used. In case you or a loved are struggling with alcohol abuse and share a unique viewpoint on how we can improve this content for our readers, please reach out to us on info@cadabams.org