The effects of alcoholism on families can cause more damage and pain than any other internal or external influence on the family unit. The impact of the drinker’s abuse or addiction is usually manifested differently with each member of the family and has long-term implications. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that more than one-half of adults in the U.S. have a close family member who has abused alcohol or is addicted to the drug.
Children of Parents who Drink
Unborn Babies: Women who drink during pregnancy pass the drug to their unborn children each time they consume alcohol. Maternal drinking causes babies to be born with irreversible physical and mental birth defects. This condition is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and these children grow up with facial abnormalities, growth retardation and brain damage that inhibits their ability to live normal lives. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, severe damage from FAS affects around 5000 babies every year; additionally 35000 babies are born with milder damage from FAS. Children: Children who are born without birth defects and live with a father and/or mother who is an alcohol abuser or addict experience severe effects that may include: • Low self-esteem
• Feelings of guilt and despair
• Loneliness and fear of abandonment
• Chronic depression
• High levels of anxiety and stress
They may believe that their parent’s drinking is their fault and frequently cry, have nightmares and wet their beds. Once they get older, children may not easily make friends. They may hoard things, develop phobias or exhibit perfectionist traits. Through the effects of alcoholism on families, children often feel they are different that other people and develop a poor self-image that they carry throughout life. They have difficulties in school and establishing relationships with friends and teachers. And...