Alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, is like any addiction. It doesn’t just affect the addict. It also affects the whole family.
Here in the Philippines, drinking alcohol is part of our culture and festivities. We drink when we want to celebrate or if we’re feeling blue. We also drink to hype up our confidence or get rid of our inhibitions. At times, we try to get intoxicated to mellow down and unwind. Some even drink to fall asleep.
In fact, Filipinos are considered as one of the heaviest drinkers in Asia. According to an article by Business Mirror, 5 million of Filipinos, out of our population of 90 million, are drinkers. And many of these may have diagnosed or undiagnosed alcohol addiction.
Alcoholism in the Family
While alcohol is part of our culture, there are those who are considered alcoholics. People suffering from alcoholism experience intense cravings for the substance to the point that they can’t stop drinking once they start. They may also experience a physical reliance on alcohol. This means they may often experience shaking or tremors, restlessness, and many other symptoms if they don’t have alcohol in their system.
The effects of alcoholism are also felt strongly not by the alcoholic, but those closest to them. The family and the children. A father who is an alcoholic will have children who are more likely to experience neglect. Growing up with an alcoholic father can have serious, and even heartbreaking, consequences not only in the short-term, but also in the long run.
This said, having an alcoholic father puts children at risk for multiple problems. First of all, their exposure to alcohol on a regular basis may increase their own risk for future alcohol abuse when they reach adulthood. Often, some even start at a young age. Alcoholism also leads to various mental health issues such as depression. It may also lead to aggressive and exploitative behavior, which puts children in danger.
Families dealing with alcoholism often experience the following:
- lack of communication
- chaotic or unpredictable family dynamics
- little to no structure in the home
- more frequent and more intense conflicts compared to those without an alcoholic in the family
- subpar parenting
- isolation from the community
- health issues
- financial issues
The Daily Life of the Children of an Alcoholic
Living with an alcoholic father can make children’s day-to-day different. They are left with a different “normal.” Meanwhile, their trust issues arise as an alcoholic father will make promises that end up broken. These children will grown up with a different or a diminished ability to trust as compared to a child growing up with a non-alcoholic father or parent. Other issues are:
- abandonment issues
- intimacy issues
- mental health issues
- fear or distrust of authority
- loss of identity
- fear of anger
Children of alcoholic fathers may also feel different from other children. They may feel alienated. Often, for those older children, the roles may be reversed as the children may tend to parent their fathers and care for them.
Even if they have been hurt, they have an innate desire to protect their alcoholic fathers. The children may clean up the messes their fathers made and make excuses for their actions.
Other Risks of Having an Alcoholic Father
Many people who grew up with an alcoholic father tend to also have substance abuse problems into adulthood. However, there are ways to avoid this and not be part of the statistics, so to speak.
One way is to avoid underage drinking. Many studies say that this correlates to alcohol issues later on in life.
If an adult or a family member also sees that a child suffers from a parent’s alcoholism, it’s important to take immediate action. The parent needs professional help and the child needs to be protected.