The Effects of Alcoholics on Family

Did you know that alcohol is the most widely used and abused drug in America? Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. This disease is often progressive and fatal. Alcoholic characteristics include continuous or periodic impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial. There are four major types of Alcoholic families.

Type One

This type is riddled with active alcoholism that includes children, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. Active alcoholism will be a part of every generation of the type one family.

Type Two

In this family system the active drinking member of the family has stopped drinking. The active alcoholism has been arrested, but the family system will continue to operate in an alcoholic way. Many type two families feel a great deal of conflict.

Type Three

The active drinking has been removed from the family for one or more generations. In this system, the parents did not drink in an alcoholic way, but one of their parents or grandparents was an alcoholic. Although drinking has not been in the family for some time the family still carries the characteristics of an alcoholic family.

Type Four

In this nonalcoholic family one of its members becomes an alcoholic. The family then becomes part of the alcoholic system. The children of this family will be at high risk of becoming alcoholics. As the disease of alcoholism progresses in the alcoholic member, the family becomes more and more dysfunctional in its attempts to deal with the alcoholic behavior.
Ashley’s Family System

Ashley’s family can be described by the type one system. Her family is made up of Alcoholics. Some are recovered, some still recovering and some who still feel they don’t have a problem. When her mom became part of the alcoholic web, Ashley was just shy of her fifteenth birthday. Ashley’s whole world changed when her mom was sent to a rehabilitation center hours from where they live. Family and friends were totally unaware that she even drank.

“I was really upset and all I did was cry all that day, because I had never been without my mom before,” Ashley recalled.

Ashley and her two younger siblings were now without a mother and also without an understanding of why she had to go away.

The Trial and Error of an Alcoholic Mind

The sadness quickly turned into anger when Ashley’s mom returned home and within months relapsed back into her alcoholic addiction. It was another heart-break and another rehab. The resentment continued to build.

“I was kind of upset that she wasn’t there, [for my birthday and Mother’s Day], but I think that, that was when I started to get angry about what she had done”, Ashley says.

Life Has to Keep Going

The summer was over and Ashley was facing one of the most important days in a young persons life-her first day of high school. She was excited, but she knew her mom wouldn’t be there to help her fix her hair and to help her pick out her clothes. She wouldn’t be there to do all the things a mother does. More than anything Ashley needed her there just to talk to. She had so many questions, fears and like any teenage girl she had a million cute boys to talk about.

Ashley’s attitude began to change. Her feelings about her mom became very reserved and she would let her anger and hurt build up until she would explode into emotional outbursts.

“I was really shy and I would hardly talk to anybody,” Ashley said.

When children are faced with an alcoholic parent their development into a healthy human being is inhibited, because the disease invades all aspects of family life.

When Time Repeats

Time seemed to be repeating itself over and over. Ashley’s mom got out of rehab and again within months relapsed and went back. By this time Ashley was so mad, that missing her wasn’t the issue anymore.

“At first I just missed her a lot, and now I just don’t even want to talk to her some times,” Ashley says.

Things were getting farther and farther away from being normal. Ashley’s parents were getting divorced and now she had to face something else that no child ever wants to go through. She felt her whole world was crashing down around her and there was nothing she could do to make it go away.

Third Times a Charm-Maybe

Ashley’s mom has been sober for six months, but the bridges are burning rapidly and repairing the broken family isn’t an easy task. Ashley just isn’t ready to let her mom back in her life again.

“I don’t think I could [ever trust her again], Ashley admits.

“I don’t hate her. I’m just really angry for what she has done to herself and her family.”

Time Marches On

Ashley continues to hold her head up high. Even though nothing will ever be the same again she feels her life is getting better. She and her brother and sister spend time with their mom every other week-end and maybe some day the bridges will be re-built.

Alcoholism is one of the most preventable illnesses but yet seven out of ten adults drink alcohol. Out of these, one of seven is an alcoholic. In families with one alcoholic parent, the child is thirty-four percent more likely to be an alcoholic than children of non-alcoholics.

Ashley’s advice to all is simple, “It’s not the end of the world and if I could get through it then they can too. It’s all gonna be alright!”

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