Alcoholism has so many negative consequences for everyone that comes in contact with it, that it has ruined many people’s lives. Alcoholics themselves suffer from health problems such as liver disease and mental health issues. Loss of job, friends, and family create an emotional strain on the alcoholic. Financial problems may also be present.
Alcoholism also has profound effect on the family of the alcoholic, particularly the children. These little victims often go unnoticed or dismissed because they are young and “should be able to bounce back”. But studies show that the effects of a parent that is an alcoholic are often long-lasting, affecting even the adult life of the child.
Consequences for Children of Alcoholics
Depending on the age of the child of an alcoholic, there may be different problems that occur. Younger children may become confused about their home life and the role their parents and older siblings begin to assume in the family. Often, these kids are fearful, untrusting, and unable to emotionally connect with others, even into adulthood. If the child of an alcoholic is older, they may experience low self-esteem, depression, fear, and guilt that they are to blame. These older children may keep to themselves, or they may lash out and get into trouble at school. It is common for children of alcoholics to have problems in school, because of lack of motivation, difficulty relating to friends or teachers, and truancy. The stress at home causes kids to have difficulty concentrating and performing well in school.
Even with all the information that clearly shows the negative effects of alcoholism on children, some people still think their actions as an alcoholic have little impact on the lives of others. How many times haven’t we heard; “It’s my life, I can do what I want. I’m not hurting anyone else”? But lots of people do suffer, and children of alcoholics have to endure a particularly unstable childhood.
Physical and Emotional Abuse
The physical abuse that occurs in some alcoholic homes is the most obvious way many children of suffer, but it is not the only way. Emotional abuse and neglect are also very traumatic. So is living in fear, not having a parent they can rely on, or having to lie to cover up for a parent’s mistakes. These experiences all change who a person is, and it is not fair to the children in a family to allow alcoholism to continue.
This is such a far-reaching problem that there are many support groups for children of alcoholics or grown children of alcoholics. Anyone that has been adversely affected by a parent’s alcoholism should make use of these groups to help with healing.
It is important for anyone struggling with alcoholism to get help, but especially those that have children. These kids can still have a chance at a healthy life if they are given a more normal upbringing. Having a parent that they can depend on helps children grow up to be happy and healthy adults.