People who suffer from alcohol use disorders often do not realize the effects that their drinking has on other individuals. And, usually, it’s the people who are closest to the person with alcoholism who suffer the most. This can include children and spouses. Millions of Americans suffer from an alcohol use disorder, and many of those individuals are parents of children.
Attending an alcohol addiction treatment program, like the many offered by Vertava Health, can help parents struggling with alcohol get on the path to recovery and prevent their children from experiencing potential turmoil.
Effects of an Alcoholic Parent on Children
The effects of an alcoholic parent on children can be widespread and long-lasting. Some children of alcoholic parents may suffer from physical or sexual abuse. Psychological and emotional effects a child may experience as a result of a parent’s alcoholism include:
- Parental neglect — Whether a parent is passed out drunk regularly, forgets school plays and PTA meetings due to drinking, or simply does not provide their child with sufficient attention and love, all of these things contribute to the overall feeling of neglect a child may experience in an alcoholic home. This can lead to children behaving in attention-seeking ways to get the love and attention they need.
- Normalization of alcohol — When alcohol is readily available or is constantly being drunk in front of a child, they will begin to see this behavior as normal. As a result, a child may be significantly more likely to participate in unhealthy drinking as they age. This can ultimately contribute to the child developing an alcohol use disorder.
- Depression — Many children with parents who are alcoholics experience mental health conditions such as depression. This can be influenced by many factors, such as neglect and instability on the parent’s part.
- Isolation — Being a child of an alcoholic can be a lonely experience. Children may feel they have no one to talk to about their parent’s behavior. They may also be embarrassed by their parents, causing them to withdraw from friends and other family members. This can lead to isolation, contributing to other issues like anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
- Confusion — Living in an alcoholic household can be incredibly confusing for a child. The parent may act in erratic ways or be unpredictable in terms of a daily routine for the child. Alcoholic parents may also exhibit rapid mood swings that leave children feeling unstable and unsure of what to expect at home.
- Trust issues — Many children of alcoholics experience trust issues at a young age. Broken promises and other trust-related behaviors are often thwarted by alcoholic parents, leaving children wary of trusting their parents and other people.
These are just a few of the many consequences of growing up in an alcoholic home. Each child is different and interprets and internalizes a parent’s alcoholic behavior differently. It’s also important to realize that the effects of living with an alcoholic parent don’t stop once the child reaches adulthood.
How Growing Up With An Alcoholic Parent Can Effect Children Into Adulthood
The effects of an alcoholic parent on children can last into adulthood. Stable, loving home environments often lead children to feel secure and confident in themselves and the world. However, the instability and other negative aspects of growing up with an alcoholic parent can negatively affect a person once in the long run. A few of the many ways alcoholism affects children into adulthood include:
- Difficulty forming relationships
- Extreme self-judgment
- Fear of abandonment
- Attention-seeking behavior
- Increased risk of substance use disorder