Alcoholism has had a permeable effect in society for much of human history, and only recently have we started taking a deep look into its effects. A recent study done by the National Library of Medicine revealed that 18 million people in the United States suffer from disorders connected to alcohol abuse. While this number doesn’t include people who are considered alcoholics, it does involve people who are adversely affected by it.
Not all the adverse effects of alcohol abuse are felt solely by the individual. The people around them are also affected to some degree, and the effects are significantly prevalent amongst the children in the household. Parental alcoholism is especially damaging, simply because of the fact that children are highly susceptible to parental influence. A child being raised by at least one alcoholic parent is bound to encounter consequences, both in the short term and the long term.
Issues Associated with Parental Alcoholism
According to surveys, there are approximately 28 million children growing in a household with at least one alcoholic parent. These children are also more likely to be alcoholic themselves when they grow up, perpetuating a cycle that rarely fixes itself down the line. Exposure to alcohol on a regular basis not only increases the risk of the child becoming alcoholic, but it also increases the chances of them developing depression, anxiety and other psychological issues, which in turn can also cause dependence on alcohol when they’re older.
Parental Alcoholism can also lead to violence or aggressive behavior, which causes further psychological harm on top of the physical. On top of such issues, families as a whole also prone to experience issues like:
- Neglectful parenting
- Lack of communication among members
- Higher risk of conflict
- Very little structure at home
- Isolation from others
- Money problems
How it Affects the Child
Living with one alcoholic parent tends to warp a child’s understanding of what is normal. To the child, it becomes abstract, where they are unsure what “normal” actually is, or that they end up associating an abnormal home life for normalcy. Trust issues also become prevalent amongst the children of alcoholics, where they are constantly experiencing broken promises, and with their parents always falling short of their expectations. Children in such environments have difficulties developing meaningful relationships in the future.
Mitigating the Risks
Because a child being raised by an alcoholic is more likely to develop issues in life, taking steps to mitigate such risks becomes imperative. One of the best ways to do this is to significantly moderate the amount of alcohol being consumed. Stopping drinking completely is ideal, but maintaining a more responsible drinking habit is just as fine. The main target is to limit the amount of alcohol being consumed to no more than 2 beverages daily.
Aside from limiting alcohol consumption, doing activities that keep your mind off alcohol can work wonders. Some of these may include sports, fishing, hiking, and even things as simple as dog-walking. From professionals at Stop Drinking Expert, regular exercise is one of the best ways that can help people suffering from alcohol abuse. Not only does exercise keep the person busy, but doing the activity in front of children also sets a good example for them to follow.
Maintaining good communication with your family is also very important. The problem with alcoholism is that it tends not to isolate just the person suffering from the addiction, but it also isolates the entire family itself from the greater community. Making sure that no bridges are burned is vital for the family as well as the for the one abusing alcohol. Keeping yourself integrated into the comings and goings of individual family members also keeps the person in question in the loop. Attending an event that is important to a child or doing everything possible to keep the child’s confidence in the parent in question can do wonders to maintain trust.
On top of miigating the risks of the effects, it’s also important to consult with professionals. Not only does alcoholism carry negative psychological effects, but it is also known to cause damage to the body, like liver problems, issues with the pancreas, and other adverse effects. Psychiatrists, doctors, and nurses are specialized to deal with such problems. Aside from healthcare professionals, support groups also exist that can help with such issues.
Whenever anyone sees that a child is being adversely affected by a parent’s alcoholism, it’s important that immediate action is taken before anything bad happens. The child in question needs to be protected, not just physically, but mentally as well. Like any illness, alcoholism can be treated, and the damage done can be prevented.