Alcoholism is a considered a family disease meaning that it does not only affect the alcoholic; it affects the loved ones of the alcoholic. An alcoholic can totally disrupt family life and cause harmful effects that can last a lifetime. According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), seventy six million American adults have been exposed to alcoholism in the family. Alcoholism is responsible for more family problems than any other single cause. One out of every four families has problems with alcohol.
5 Ways Alcoholism is a Family Disease
1. Family Dysfunction – Family dysfunction refers to conflict, misbehavior, and often child neglect or abuse that occurs continually and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions. Children sometimes grow up in such families with the understanding that such an arrangement is normal and thus perpetuate this family disease when they grow up and have their own families.
2. Financial Woes – Financial stress is the number one cause of arguments and fights amongst couples, in general. Add the cost of supporting a habit such as alcoholism, and the stress factor goes up. Alcoholics need a way to support their alcohol habit. Whether the alcoholic is consuming a lot or a little, it is usually a daily need and that all adds up. Besides directly spending money on alcohol, alcoholism can lead to loss of a job (and therefore the loss of household income) and exorbitant fines for alcohol-related offences such as DUI’s, court costs, lawyer fees, etc. In this way, alcoholism’s effects can be seen as a family disease.
3. Marital problems – Alcoholism as a family disease also manifests as a wedge that forms between partners. Fighting, trust issues, depression, fear (walking on egg shells), anxiety, and codependency are all common to an alcoholic relationship. Codependency is defined as a psychological condition and describes behaviors, thoughts and feelings that go beyond normal kinds of self-sacrifice or caretaking. Statistically, separated and/or divorced men and women were three times as likely as married men and women to say they had been married to an alcoholic.
4. Health – The family disease of alcoholism includes both mental and physical health issues. The latest research supports the heredity of this family disease. Genetics combined with an alcoholic environment leads to an increased risk of alcoholism amongst children of alcoholics (COAs). COAs have been found to have a higher rate of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Some of these symptoms include crying, lack of friends, fear of going to school, nightmares, perfectionism, hoarding, and excessive self-consciousness. Young children affected by this family disease may have frequent nightmares, bed wetting, and crying. This family disease tends to affect older children differently. They may show such depressive symptoms as isolating, hoarding, obsessive perfectionism, or being excessively self-conscious. Furthermore, the family disease of alcoholism correlates with an increased rate of suicide among COAs and, on average, they have total health care costs that are 32% greater than children of non-alcoholic families.
5. Prevalence of abuse – Alcoholism is more strongly correlated to child abuse than depression and other disorders. Studies have found that substance abuse such as alcoholism is a factor in nearly four-fifths of reported cases of domestic abuse and that alcoholism is more prevalent among child-abusing parents. Alcoholism is a family disease because it affects everyone in the family unit. Furthermore, this is a family disease because it is often replicated and perpetuated when the abused COAs start families of their own.
If you or your family have been affected by alcoholism, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.