How Are Friends & Family Affected by the Actions of an Alcoholic Loved-One?
Alcoholism affects people beyond just the alcoholic. Friends, family and other people that a person suffering the effects of alcoholism interacts with on a regular basis are all likely to experience problems related to the condition. As alcohol abuse progresses, sufferers are likely to withdraw from society at large and may lash out at well-meaning acquaintances who seek to help the alcoholic come to grips with addiction. Financial problems are likely to arise due to not only the costs of supporting a drug addiction but also the loss of productivity and regular work hours due to increased illness, hangovers and other adverse effects.
Financial and Social Problems
Families and others that rely on a sufferer of alcoholism are likely to experience problems related to financial troubles caused by drinking habits. The costs of alcohol increase as the alcoholic person builds tolerance to the drug in his or her system. This requires the person to take in ever-greater amounts of alcohol in order to feel the same effects. The psychological effects of this alcohol tolerance and dependency may cause the sufferer to become withdrawn and less supportive of colleagues, friends and family members. Sufferers may no longer attend social functions that do not allow drinking and may not be fully aware of their behavior if attending functions where their drug of choice is allowed. A lack of networking and communication with peers may cause further financial problems if the sufferer loses promotion opportunities. Greater drains on income and lessened opportunities may cause undue troubles for others financially dependent on the sufferer, requiring a spouse or roommate to pick up extra hours or a second job to keep bills at a manageable level.
The constant agitation, drowsiness and confusion experienced by those suffering the effects of alcoholism are likely to cause problems for anyone in a relationship with the sufferer. People who find themselves in a romantic relationship with an alcoholic may end up making excuses for their lack of attendance or improper conduct at social functions. They may find their options for other social interaction limited, and this may further be compounded by financial troubles or other problems related to the incidence of alcoholism. Alcoholics may have trouble relating to teetotalers or those who do not share their propensity for drinking to excess, and they may attempt to convince friends or loved ones to join them in drinking. This can lead to additional problems as others experience the challenges faced by having a sufferer in their personal relationships.
Families rely heavily on one another for support. This includes both financial and emotional support, which alcoholism can erode over time. Children are likely to experience a number of problems related to the conduct or financial situation of their parents when alcoholism is involved. Children may experience neglect or physical and mental abuse as a parent loses awareness of their actions due to the effects of alcohol. Children may also find problems with their own social development appearing due to an alcoholic parent becoming unwilling or unable to support the child's endeavors. This can range from missed events, such as soccer games or birthday parties, to outright neglect.
Support organizations exist for friends and family members of alcoholics due to the problems created by the condition. Al-Anon Family Groups and similar organizations seek to help people in this situation understand their role in the environment. Groups typically focus on helping acquaintances and loved ones understand that they are not responsible for the behavior and actions of a sufferer of alcoholism. Such organizations may offer aid in the form of group therapy sessions, resources for development and community support for members seeking friends outside of their normal environment. Many also offer training on how to assist a loved one with coming to grips with the condition and facing the problems that now plague the family, business or relationship.