Alcohol and Families


Alcohol can seriously damage families and have a big impact on family life when it is drunk to excess on a regular basis. Alcohol affects people’s behaviour which can then have an impact on important family routines. It can be especially damaging for families with young children.

Daily routines are important to families with children and activities such as school, mealtimes and bedtimes are key. When these are disrupted because of heavy drinking, children can become confused and upset, and resentment can grow between adults.

When someone is a heavy drinker they can become selfish and isolated and stop contributing as much to family life. Housework, family time together and money can all become major areas of contention. There can also be practical problems such as poor hygiene and mess at home, unpaid bills and debt.

People’s work is often disrupted when they are regularly drinking heavily. They may stop attending work consistently or start being late, or they may find that their attention is slipping and the quality of their work falls. Sometimes it gets so bad that people lose their jobs or start getting offered less work because of their drinking, which will obviously affect a family’s finances. A drop in income can lead to stress and debt, and in some cases people have had their houses repossessed.

Families affected by alcoholism can be torn apart or their relationships badly damaged. Trust can be eroded. Alcoholics often become secretive and isolate themselves from their usual routines and from friends and family. It can leave those close to them confused, resentful and angry. When families spend less time together they can drift apart and ties weaken. One person’s drinking can also affect the rest of the family’s social life. They may stop doing things with other people because they are embarrassed or anxious about what might happen.

Heavy drinking can seriously damage families and can break them up permanently. However, for those that decide to stop drinking, their families can be key to helping them quit. Despite what they have often been through, many families will be supportive to a relative trying to quit drinking and this support can help the drinker through.


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