Alcoholism in the family – Part 3: Long-term impact on health and relationships

Alcoholism in the family – Part 3: Long-term impact on health and relationships

Alcohol is the most widely used addictive substance in the United States, affecting all age groups. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 86 percent of people aged 18 or older accepted drinking alcohol at some point in their lifetime. The NSDUH data also revealed that over 15 million American adults had an ‘alcohol use disorder’ (AUD) in the survey year.  

Different stages of alcoholism

Alcohol addiction gets terrifying over time. The rate of addiction is different for every individual. It is not that everyone who drinks alcohol will become addicted to the substance. The different stages of alcohol abuse include:

  • Experimental abuse and binge drinking: The experimental stage is seen in newbies who step in the circle and indulge in binge drinking in order to assess their adulthood.
  • Surged drinking habits: The second stage of alcohol comes when an individual promotes himself from the experimental stage to frequent drinking habits. Instead of indulging in a glass during parties, he moves a step ahead to hold a glass every weekend. Increased drinking habits can also be attributed to stress, boredom or willingness to get along with friends.
  • Uncontrolled tendencies: An acute urge to catch a drink keeps disturbing a person until he really gets a drink and feels better. The uncontrolled tendencies create anxiety and make it difficult to cope with stress.
  • Addiction- the closing stage: Addiction is the final stage of alcoholism, where an individual no longer wants a drink to celebrate an occasion. Rather it becomes an integral part of his life. The “need to drink” becomes his only physical and psychological voice.

Impact on family life

Long-term dependency on alcohol not only causes health complications, but also affects family relationships and creates emotional disturbance. It is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S., resulting in about 88,000 deaths annually, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Chronic physical and mental illnesses like dementia, cancer, liver disease, hypertension and depression can shroud a person exposed to alcohol for a long time.

Millions of families in the U.S. are in the grip of alcohol. Also known as the family disease, alcoholism can affect family relationships at different levels. Shockingly, nearly 7 million children in the U.S. live with an alcohol-dependent parent or have family history of alcoholism, says a study by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD).

Alcohol abuse can affect a family in the following ways:

  • Parental alcoholism can have serious impact on the fetus leading to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders(FASD).
  • Children born to parents with AUD tend to stay in the system. They are three times more likely to adopt alcohol as their addiction in later years.
  • Children born in an alcohol-influenced household finds difficulty in coping with the society. They generally lack social skills.
  • Genetic factors also play an important role in debilitating physical and mental conditions. Adult children of people with alcohol addiction often indulge in psychoactive substances in order to overcome depression and escape pain.

Path to recovery

Alcoholism not only affects the physical and mental health of a person, but also affects those related to that person. It is important to note that alcohol addiction is a disease that can be treated. If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol addiction, get in touch with the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California to know about the right treatment available at alcohol rehab centers in California. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 or chat online to know about one of the reputed alcohol addiction treatment facilities in California.

Read the first part of the series, “Alcoholism in the family:”

Part 1: Living with parents addicted to alcohol

Part 2: Alcohol and its effect on an unborn child

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