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Alcoholism and Its Effects on the Family

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Alcoholism and its Effects On the Family

Alcohol is a very powerful drug. It can ruin someone's life. It may also be able to ruin everyone that alcoholic lives around. But first what is alcoholism.

Alcoholism is a chronic disorder characterized by dependence on alcohol, repeated excessive use of alcoholic beverages, development of withdrawal symptoms on reducing or ceasing alcohol intake, morbidity that may include cirrhosis of the liver, and decreased ability to function socially and vocationally. Currently believed by many to be a disease with strong genetic links.

One thing that defines alcoholism is denial. Early in the development of alcoholism, occasional episodes of excessive drinking are explained away by both parents. Drinking because of being tired, worry, or a bad day is not unbelievable. The idea is that the event is isolated and is not a problem.(Harrison)

After denial the family tries to get rid of the problem. The non-alcoholic parent realizes that the drinking is not normal and tries to tell the alcoholic to quit, be more careful, or at least cut down. The parent also tries to hide the problems from the outside and keep up a strong look. The kids may now start to have problems due to the family stress.(Harrison)

Now comes all the chaos and disorganization. The family balance is starting to break up. The non-alcoholic parent can no longer pretend everything is okay. That parent spends most of the time going from problem to problem. Financial problems are not unusual. At this point the parent is likely to seek outside help.(Harrison)

Now we are starting to rebuild the structure and regain control. The non-alcoholic parent coping abilities have become strengthened. He or she gradually takes over a larger share of the responsibility for the family. This may mean getting a job or taking over the money. Rather than focusing on getting the alcoholic to shape up, the spouse is now taking charge and tries to encourage family life, in spite of the alcoholism.(Harrison)

Now it is time to try and get away from the alcoholic. Separation or divorce may be tried. If the family remains together, the family continues living around the alcoholic. In the case of separation, family reform occurs without the alcoholic member. If the alcoholic achieves sobriety, a resolution may take place. Either way, both parents must straighten up their roles within



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