Alcoholism is a leading cause of dysfunctional families. In 2019 it is estimated that over 26.8 million children live in the homes of alcoholics. Many of those children are under age eighteen. While no two families are the same, dysfunction and alcoholism symptoms need to be recognized and treated.

What is Alcoholism in Family Systems?

Alcoholism in family systems means the effects of alcoholism on the family. It also refers to the enabling behaviors of the non-alcoholics. Many family members shield the alcoholic from the consequences of drinking. They do this out of fear; fear of the alcoholic and fear of losing support from the alcoholic.

Alcoholism Symptoms and Marriage

Alcoholism causes broken marriages. While spouses still married to an alcoholic are less likely to admit alcoholism in the home, 2/3 of separated and divorced people admit to alcoholism contributing to the decline of the marriage.

Exposure to alcoholism in the family is higher among women at 46.2% than men at 38.9%. Nearly 38% of these women are separated or divorced from an alcoholic.

Alcoholism Symptoms and Children

Alcoholism and alcoholism symptoms are reported as one of two problems affecting families with child abuse. Each year, over one million children are confirmed as victims of child abuse and neglect. Alcoholism contributes to nearly 30% of father-daughter incest cases and 75% of domestic violence cases in the United States. Often the child victims turn to drinking to escape the pain of abuse.

What to do When Alcoholism Symptoms Cause Family Dysfunction

  1. Recognize and Admit the Problem: As a spouse or child of an alcoholic it’s scary to admit alcoholism is a problem. Fear of the alcoholic can be a strong deterrent to speaking. But there’s a solution. Al-Anon and Alateen offer a 24-hour hotline (1-800-344-2666) where you can call for help. If you are a child, speak to a teacher, coach, or counselor at school. They will help you and your parents.
  2. Become Aware: Through peer support groups and therapy you can realize how the alcoholic’s behaviors have affected you. You can heal and express your emotions in a healthy and safe environment.
  3. Learn Coping Strategies: Living with an alcoholic and experiencing the ups and downs of alcoholism symptoms can teach bad ways of dealing with stress. Find new role models and strategies to deal with stress that does not involve substance abuse. Consider yoga, journaling, music and art therapy.
  4. Find Support: A peer support group such as CoDA and Al-Anon will show you are not alone. Many people have suffered the effects of alcoholism symptoms in their family. If you are an adult and have left the alcoholic home, you still need support. Contact Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) to find a support group near you.
  5. Find a Safe Home: If there is abuse in an alcoholic home you need to find a safe place to live. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE. If anyone is in immediate danger call 911.

Stop the Alcoholic Cycle: Don’t turn towards drugs or alcohol to numb the pain of living in an alcoholic home. If you are tempted, get help right away.

Need Help for Alcoholism Symptoms and Family Dysfunction?

Contact Aion Recovery in Southern Florida for intervention and support to stop alcoholism symptoms from destroying your family. Call 888-811-2879.


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