By Willis Braggs
When there is an alcoholic in the family, it affects the entire family. It ranges from being afraid to attend social gatherings and weddings because the alcohol will be free-flowing to dreading the holiday season because many celebrations include alcohol. Is anyone counting the drinks that the problem drinker has consumed? Does the family have an exit strategy? How long can the family endure this alcohol-induced dance to hide the fact that their loved one is an alcoholic?
Are you waiting by the phone because the problem drinker has not made it home on a Friday night? Is she or he out drinking? Did she or he crash the car? Do they become combative when they drink?
The stress from the dangerous and/or embarrassing possibilities that could happen affects the entire family. The kids are afraid to invite their friends over, so they never have friends over in order to hide the problems caused by the alcoholism. Family and marital problems often start or get worse because of the alcoholism, but researchers have also learned that spouses and children may contribute to the drinker’s habit and make it worse. Some families allow heavy drinking to continue rather than dealing with serious family problems. Others keep the habit going in exchange for keeping the family together.
Denial is an essential problem for alcoholics and family members. Family members can use denial to rationalize the drinker’s alcohol dependency. Denial is understandable because every family loves and wants to protect its members, but there comes a time when denial negatively harms family members. When family members deny the obvious and refuse to look for help, their behavior can trigger problems in the children of the alcoholic.
Alcohol affects each member of the family, from the unborn child to the alcoholic’s spouse. Its far-reaching effects not only result in problems for the alcoholic, but also may result in physical and psychological problems for other members of the family.
If you are reading this and know something is wrong that needs to be taken care of, or if you’re wondering whether you have a drinking/thinking problem, maybe because you’ve been told others are concerned about your alcohol overuse, stop holding on to the additional stress. Do something about it. Call Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500 to speak with the addiction recovery coordinator or one of our doctors. Call the members listed in the box attached to this article and attend a Peace Officer’s Fellowship or AA meeting. Do it for yourself and your family.