Family, Friends of Alcoholics Also Suffer - Especially Children ; YOUTH RESOURCES

Article excerpt

Everyone knows someone who is affected by alcoholism. Recent statistics show that there are approximately 18 million alcoholics in the United States. Now, think about the number of spouses, children, siblings, friends and co-workers that interact with those 18 million people daily and we can just begin to get a glimpse of the scope of the problem. One in five adult Americans has lived with an alcoholic relative, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. We so often put all of the focus on the person who is struggling with the addiction, yet we forget to include the loved ones who suffer greatly right along beside them - especially the children.

Children of alcoholics face all of the typical feelings and emotions that adolescents have to grow through, but with added feelings that are common while living with an alcoholic, such as confusion, anxiety, embarrassment, depression, anger and guilt thinking that they are responsible for their parent's behavior.

These children can benefit from seeking professional support from a therapist who can help them work with them on healthy coping skills to deal with their parent's addiction. Families often do not talk about this issue and do not want anyone to know about it, so the children truly feel like no one else has a parent who is an alcoholic. Peer support groups such as Al-Anon can be help by letting them know they are not alone.

Parents who are alcoholics think they can hide it and their children will not notice. Some are able to for a while, but children eventually figure out when a parent has a problem with drinking. Even young children notice when a parent starts drinking alcohol first thing in the morning or hides the glass and tries to take a drink when he thinks no one is looking.

A student involved with Youth Resources' programs shared, "My mom was sober for a while when I was a child and she told me about her problem with alcohol when she was younger. She taught me all about what alcohol can do to ruin someone's life. When I was in high school, she started drinking again and I instantly knew that this could really be a problem. I had heard the saying 'once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.' Then I knew the problem was getting worse when she would drink to get drunk as her escape from the real world, and when she was drinking not only on the weekends, but on nights when she had to work the next day. …


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