Over 7 million children currently live in homes where one parent is an alcoholic. Twelve to fourteen million adults abuse alcohol or have chronic alcoholic behavior. One in five adults living today grew up in a home where one or both parents were alcoholics. Research shows that children living in a home where a parent is addicted to alcohol have a greater chance of emotional problems than children who live in a home where alcohol is not an issue. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 61 % of adults in the United States report that they drink alcohol. Thirty-two percent report that they drank five or more alcohol drinks in one day during the past year. Over 100,000 U.S. citizens die each year due to alcohol-induced experiences. Other research shows that more than half of all homicides, suicides and traffic accidents in the U.S. are alcohol related It’s not hard to find information regarding the negative effects that alcohol has on the family.
In fact, I believe that if alcohol was discovered today, it would be illegal to consume in its present form. The fact that alcohol is here and we, as a country, took so long to deal with our denial of its negative effects, has kept us in a tolerating mode of its existence. The good news is, every individual in a family has a choice in how it chooses to consume this product before the individual and family becomes affected by its negative side effects. The sad news is children of alcoholic parents do not have a choice. They are often forced to live with the problem alcoholic parent. This portion of Scott Counseling will help you explore the world alcoholism in relationship to children without passing judgment. It will provided you, as the parent, with real help in meeting the needs of your child who has a parent facing this disease.
Some Simple & Current Facts About Alcoholism
o Alcohol is the chemical fermentation or distillation of fruits or grains.
o Alcoholism is a diseased characterized by a compulsion to drink alcohol.
o The American Medical Association and the World Health Organization recognizes alcoholism as a disease.
o Alcoholism is a disease because of its impairment of the body’s health and causes abnormal, progressive deterioration of the body’s organs.
o Alcohol affects people differently. The immediate effects range from mild mood changes to complete loss of coordination, vision, balance and speech.
o Chronic alcoholism is a progressive and often fatal disease.
o An alcoholic craves alcohol. Once the body is addicted to alcohol, it relies on this chemical just as it relies on oxygen.
o Alcoholism affects an individual’s mind. Alcoholics not only become physically dependent, they are often psychologically dependent.
o The causes of alcoholism have been hard to define. Most medical research doctors have come to the conclusion that alcoholism is caused by a blend of genetic, physical, psychological, environmental and social factors.
Signs Of Alcoholism In A Parent
o The parent’s drinking interferes with family life.
o Parent is having job related problems.
o Parent appears be agitated, angry, sad or displaying unusual moods swings.
o Family plans are often changed or cancelled.
o Parent is getting into fights or argument with other family member(s).
o Personality changes while under the influence of alcohol.
o Parent has periods of time when he or she can’t remember things or has “black outs.”
o Parent gets intoxicated more and more often.
o Alcohol becomes a big part of a parent’s life.
o Parent has on-going financial problems.
o Parent is spending more time with others who drink alcohol.
o Parent begins to hide alcohol in different places in the home.
o Parent denies that any of the signs above are occurring.
Some Reasons Why Alcoholism is a Disease
The medical field recognizes alcoholism as a disease because people who have this condition have uncontrollable cravings to drink. Blaming the drinker, yourself or others will not put an end to the condition. Taking the alcohol away from an alcoholic will not put an end to the condition. Just like other human diseases (acne, diabetes, coronary, cancer etc.), alcoholism will not go away by taking away the cause (i.e. not eating peanuts ends all acne). An alcoholic may have to battle this condition all of their life. Furthermore, this disease often requires direct medical interventions. Because a family member can’t control the parent’s condition and is not the cause of the parents problem drinking, the blame should be placed on the disease. The first thing your children need to know about regarding their parents’ drinking problem is that they are not at fault. The second thing that the children need to know is that the parent is ill, has a disease and needs help.
What A Parent Can Do To Help Their Child
o If you are the parent who has a drinking problem, get help. Contact your medical doctor, health insurance company, employee assistance program, religious affiliation or Alcoholics Anonymous.
o The parent can enroll themselves and their children in support setting. Al-Anon and Alateen are nationally based program throughout the United States. Check your phonebook or Internet for the chapter closest to you. These programs, along with Alcoholics Anonymous will assist you in taking the right steps to help the drinking parent.
o Have a family intervention. If you (the other parent) and your children have a talking relationship with the drinking parent, sit down with the entire family. This may include relatives, friends, co-workers and anyone else who the drinking parent may respect. Before you meet with the drinking parent, meet with your intervention family team. Discuss what you will say and how you want to be loving and supportive while you say:
1.”We love you and we want you to stop drinking.”
2. “We want you to get help.”
3. “Even if you don’t think you have a problem, please see your doctor.”
4. “We love you and we want you to get help.”
o Don’t be surprised if the parent refuses to get help. This does not mean that other family members can’t seek help to get support for themselves. You can’t control the drinking parent. You can control yourself.
o A parent may have to notify the school counselor if the kids need additional support. This school counselor, nurse, social worker or psychologist may have additional information to provide you as well as names and phone numbers of outside agencies that can help.
o Do not be ashamed or embarrassed! If the drinking parent had heart disease would you or your child be ashamed or embarrassed? Don’t let these feelings stop you from getting help!
Scott Wardell is a school counselor and created http://www.ScottCounseling.com to provide parents with 100’s of free parenting articles to assist parents with their parenting skills.