A child and a lady taking care of alcoholic trapped in an alcohol bottle.

Artwork by Nitya Menon

A child and a lady taking care of alcoholic trapped in an alcohol bottle.

Effects of Alcoholism on Family

Medically reviewed by

Written by Sreelakshmi

A report released by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment stated that alcohol is the most extensively consumed psychoactive substance in India.

About 16 crore Indians drink alcohol; of which one-third of them have issues with alcoholism. Among these people who are affected by alcohol abuse, only 2.6% receive treatment for their condition. This indicates that we, as a society, have serious issues with alcohol abuse!

What is Alcoholism?

Generally speaking, alcoholism is excessive drinking of alcohol which causes significant mental health and physical health problems. 

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a pattern of drinking alcohol that involves issues with controlling or reducing the amounts of alcohol and frequency of drinking. A person with AUD continues their alcohol consumption even when it causes them problems. 

It might be an uphill battle for them to quit alcohol, as rapidly decreasing their consumption or stopping drinking might cause withdrawal symptoms!

Effects of Alcoholism on Families

Alcoholism or alcohol addiction is often called a family disease. Most likely, the family of the alcoholic deals with the ramifications of the disease more than the alcoholic person themselves. AUD impacts every aspect of your family life: physical, emotional, legal, and financial. 

If you are suffering from alcoholism, it is likely that your family and loved ones are dealing with anxiety, depression, and shame. AUD is one of the leading factors of marital strife, domestic violence, child neglect, abuse, and divorce. Some effects of family alcohol addiction include:

Financial Impact of Alcoholism on Families:

Alcoholism is an expensive addiction. Depending on how much you drink, it can cause a significant dent in the family budget. 

This cost keeps on increasing because as your alcoholism progresses you need to drink more alcohol to get the same effect. AUD also puts a strain on family finances indirectly. Most alcoholics find it difficult to fulfill their professional and social obligations. This affects their chances of getting a pay raise or promotion. 

It can even lead to the loss of a job due to absenteeism or being under the influence during work! Additionally, drunk driving can cause one to pay fines or court fees. It can even cause costly accidents.

After exhausting their finances, an alcoholic might even try to take their spouse’s income in order to fulfill their addiction.

Domestic Abuse

Alcoholism exacerbates existing family issues and creates new ones. As alcoholism causes behavioral differences and mood swings, it might be dangerous to be around relatives suffering from alcoholism. While alcoholism is not an excuse for domestic violence, it is one of the leading factors of it. 75% of domestic violence cases include a parent/partner abusing drugs, mostly alcohol.

The abuse could be emotional abuse — demeaning comments, intimidating acts, threats, etc. Or it could escalate to physical abuse — violence towards their spouse or children.

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Children of Alcoholics

Children are the biggest victims of alcoholism. Having an alcoholic parent can have severe ramifications on a child’s social skills, mental health, and emotional growth. 

Children of alcoholics generally feel abandoned and neglected. They are forced to deal with very serious issues from a young age and made to behave in ways beyond their maturity level. They might be compelled to take on responsibilities beyond their age — taking care of a younger sibling due to a lack of engagement from parents, worrying about finances, or even dealing with domestic violence.

This leads to a building of anger and resentment when ideally childhood ought to be carefree and joyful. It also generates mistrust and a skewed worldview from a young age which burdens them throughout their life. Since these children have to deal with unstable family life, they are at a greater risk of developing PTSD or codependent behavior.

However, it is not just their mental health and emotional growth that is affected. Children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop alcoholism as they grow into adulthood!

Increased Strain on Relationships

An alcoholic’s spouse can feel stressed and worn out as they are left to pick up the pieces of a broken family. They are compelled to fulfill the social and financial obligations that might be neglected by their spouse.

A person suffering from AUD is often in denial about their issues and instead blames others. This breeds mistrust and resentment which leads to the deterioration of relationships. Additionally, missing debt repayments and social obligations can erode friendships and family ties.

As a partner, instead of blaming yourself or covering up the issue from others, you should seek professional help in order to save your family. 

Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Your Body

Alcoholism affects not just your family; it has a significant impact on your physical and mental health. 

Short Term Effects:

The short-term effects of alcohol are the effects immediately after binge drinking. They are:

Loss of Balance:

A person who drank heavily might be unable to balance themselves and can have trouble walking in a straight line.

Lowered Inhibition and False Judgment: 

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and makes you react more impulsively. Their ability of judgment might be impaired which can lead to poor decisions.

Nausea or Vomiting:

Consuming large amounts of alcohol can cause nausea. Sometimes this can lead to vomiting and dehydration. Hangovers are also an effect of binge drinking.

Moodiness or Irritability:

Alcohol consumption can affect your moods. Excessive drinking can result in irritability or aggression. 

Long-Term Effects of Alcoholism:

Long-term effects of alcohol are health issues that buildup over time. Some of the long-term physical effects of alcohol are:

Liver Disease:

Excessive drinking has severe impacts on your liver and causes a variety of diseases including liver cirrhosis, fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, etc.

Heart problems:

The effects of drinking accumulate over time and it damages your heart and cardiovascular system. It increases your risk of developing diseases such as cardiomyopathy, strokes, higher blood pressure, and abnormal heart rate.

Digestive Issues:

Heavy drinking leads to the malfunctioning of the pancreas, which results in pancreatitis, a severe inflammation of organs and blood vessels in the pancreas that disrupts proper digestion.

Weakens the Immune System:

Long-term alcohol use can weaken the immune system. Alcoholics have a higher risk of contracting tuberculosis or pneumonia than non-drinkers. 

Sexual Dysfunction and Menstrual Issues:

Alcoholism can cause sexual dysfunction in men. In women, excessive drinking can interrupt menstruation.

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When and How to Get Help for Alcoholism

Get help when your alcohol consumption drives and controls you, instead of the other way around.

If you feel that you are facing family or financial issues due to your habit, you need to quit alcohol in family. If you want to quit alcohol, but are unable to do so, seek professional help. If you think that your spouse or family member might be an alcoholic, talk with them without being judgmental and encourage them to get help. It might be difficult to make them realize that they are suffering from an addiction, especially if they are high-functioning alcoholics. However, if your happiness, stability, or safety is threatened, you must seek professional help! Feel free to call us at +91 97414 76476 or contact our website.

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