Alcohol

Alcohol, for many people, is a way to toast to a special occasion or to compliment a delicious meal. There are some who do not enjoy alcohol at all. They might not like the smell or taste, the feeling of being tipsy, or feeling they have lost control of themselves and their environment. According to Psychology Today people drink to raise a positive mood, alleviate a negative mood and anxiety, or increase confidence (Heshmat, S.,2017).
Alcoholism affects people from various educational levels, incomes and all walks of life. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines alcoholism, or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), as a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences these individuals feel they are not able to function normally without alcohol. In this country, it is estimated 16 million people struggle with AUD. Regrettably, less than eight percent of them get treatment (NIAAA, 2017).
The varied effect of alcohol depends on age and family history, as well as, amount, frequency, and length of consumption. Drinking too much alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning, blackouts, slurred speech, behavioral changes, issues with concentration, and motor impairment. These issues can result in further complicating a person’s life with auto accidents, criminal or violent behavior, suicide or homicide, and serious, expensive legal issues. Abusing alcohol puts individuals at risk of suffering social consequences. For example, a severe hangover could result in putting a person’s job in jeopardy as a result of taking too much time off, unsatisfactory work performance, and work place mishaps. Personal relationships are also affected. Friends and loved ones close to someone who abuses alcohol are impacted greatly and adversely affected. Other serious complications of alcoholism on the entire body include the brain, cardiovascular disease, damage to the liver, pancreas, immune system and an increase in developing cancers of the mouth, throat, or esophagus and difficulty fighting off lung infections. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every day an average of 6 people die as a result of alcohol poisoning. The report also states 76 percent of them are aged 35 to 64, and three of every four people killed by alcohol poisoning are men (Bernstein, 2015). The death toll in the United Sates from alcohol-related deaths is more than 80,000 people annually. Deaths’ resulting from alcohol is the third most preventable cause of death in this country. The first being tobacco, and poor diet/sedentary lifestyle is second according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA, 2017).
Parenting
Children look to their parents for unconditional love and support from the time they are infants through adulthood. The misuse of alcohol by parents presents significant issues to parenting and can have a deep seated impact on their children. Parents who are dependent on or abusers of alcohol may affect their ability to effectively function in the parental role. This could result in the parent having difficulty responding to their child’s needs. During this time period parents continue to play a crucial role in the development of their children. The adverse effects of parental problem drinking can have serious consequences on adolescent growth and adjustment by hindering parenting skills. Parental alcohol misuse can affect the physical and mental soundness of their children. For example, a child whose parent engages in addiction-related behavior receives irregular care and nurturing may result in the child having attachment issues that can hinder their emotional development. Characteristics of families with parental alcohol misuse suffer from lower levels of caring and warmth, less physical and verbal expressions of positive feelings, their environment is viewed as less cohesive, and a greater degree of unresolved conflict. Parental alcohol abuse can negatively affect their physical and cognitive function. Their decision making skills and problem solving abilities are severely hindered. A bad decision made by the parent, for instance, getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, could result in an incarceration, which can put their child in inadequate or inappropriate supervision. These children are also at risk for abuse, emotional damage, and neglect (McWhirter et.al. 2007).
Several studies have shown that alcohol abuse plays a significant role in child abuse. Alcoholic parents have difficulties controlling their anger and regulating their emotions. These parents run the risk of impairing their child’s overall adjustment, development and wellness. The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council reports parental substance abuse is recognized as a risk factor for child maltreatment and child welfare involvement. Parents who are abusers of either alcohol or drugs, it is anticipated that their children will experience some form of abuse or neglect than children in other families who do not abuse alcohol or drugs.
Diana Baumrind, a development al psychologist, introduced three different parenting styles, authoritarian, authoritative and permissive, while conducting research in the 1960s at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research examined how people parent based on the demands they place on their children and how they respond to their children’s needs. Parenting styles: Authoritarian parenting is strict. High expectations and inflexible rules are set by parents for their children. The children are not allowed to make their own decisions and when rules, set by the parents are broken, the children suffer swift and severe punishments. Authoritative parenting gives children boundaries and guidance, and allows children more freedom to make decisions and learn from their mistakes. Authoritative parenting exhibits more support and less harsh conduct. These parents encourage negotiating, and they reason with their children. Permissive parenting style is warm and responsive with few or no rules. The children have few limits and the traditional parent-child dynamic is more of a peer relationship. Research suggests parents that have substance abuse problems are linked to excessively authoritarian or permissive parenting styles. The parent/parents also have unrealistic expectations of their child/children’s abilities (Mayes, L.C. ; Truman, S.D., 2002). The authoritarian parent has less communication with their child; this could lead to issues with less self-expression by the children, which could lead to problems later in life. With permissive parenting there is unwillingness to enforce demands, expectations, and limits. There are not very many rules. Adolescent children raised with permissive parenting style are more prone to struggling with self-control and self-regulation. Authoritative parenting is more successful with adolescents. This style of parenting promotes adolescents positive well-being and they are less likely to experiment in alcohol and drug use (Carle, A.C. et al., 2004; Mayes, L.C. et al., 2002). There is more communication between parents, and their adolescent children as well as less anxiety and depression, and the child is not as inclined to participate in antisocial behavior like misconduct and/or alcohol and drug use.
The misuse of alcohol by parents may result in erratic expressions of affection and warmth toward their child. Mothers who misuse alcohol are more likely to expose their child to several risks, for example maternal depression which may result in emotional unavailability to the child (Carle, A.C. ; Chassin, L., 2004). The amount of supervision given to children by parents who abuse alcohol is also influenced. Friends that children develop could be deeply impacted from poor parental modeling and supervision. Children of parents who misuse alcohol tends to engage in significantly more deviant behavior and surround themselves with more deviant peer groups (Carle, A.C. ; Chassin, L., 2004). Parents likewise become more focused on their own drinking behavior. They give less care and nurturing for the child/children because of their focus on alcohol. As a consequence of the problematic drinking behavior, the parent/parents may begin to become an ineffective parent and over time may become less able to carry out parental responsibilities.
Adolescence
Children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than non-COAs (children of alcoholics). An alarming, but indisputable, fact regarding adolescent or teenage alcohol use usually starts at home.
In the family environment the role of parents has essentially been to prepare their children for the responsibilities of adulthood through rules and discipline. Adolescence can be a strenuous time for parents and children. During the period of adolescence parental influence will affect behaviors into adulthood. Adolescence is the transition from childhood to adulthood. It covers the ages of 12-24 years old. During adolescence the impulse for independence increases. The developmental indicator of this increasing maturity usually leaves parents less than thrilled. Adolescence is a time distinguished by swift change and development. These changes can be inconsistent as well as uncomfortable. There are five characteristic or developmental changes that adolescents will experience. They include emotional, personal and social changes, as well as physical changes. In addition, their cognitive processes will begin to differ. The rate at which adolescents undergo these changes will be different depending on environment, health, gender, and genetics factors.
Parents who are dealing with drugs or alcohol have difficulty providing their children with guidance and support. Alcohol use can change a person’s memory, impulse control, and state of consciousness, each of which may diminish the parent’s potential to interact with and raise their child effectively. Studies have shown parents who abuse alcohol use less discipline on their children (King and Chassin 2004). Parental alcoholism lessened the amount of parental monitoring. Less parental monitoring could lead to adolescent alcohol or drug use. Parents who have rules set in place and who enforce those rules, reduce the likelihood of their adolescent child from trying alcohol.
The troublesome effects of problem drinking on how families function may influence adolescents’ views of how families usually interact. Some adolescents might view their family dysfunction as normal. Those experiences will influence their behavior with intimate relationships and parenthood. Adolescents who are consistently verbally abused by the parent and witness parental hostility, or endure physical abuse may carry over those experiences onto his/her spouse and offspring. Adolescent children, who come from parents with dependence problem disorders, may engage in illegal drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
There are several factors that could influence adolescent alcohol use such as biological, psychological, and sociocultural. Other factors that could influence adolescent alcohol use include poor parental role models or family conflicts such as divorce. However, it is apparent that parental abuse of alcohol may have possible adverse effects on adolescents. Parental alcoholism, poor parenting skills, and family dysfunction, may cause complicated outcomes for adolescents and their adulthood.
Recovery and Treatment
Unfortunately, alcoholism not only affects the person addicted to alcohol but their children and family are also affected. If you know someone or you are the child of a parent who abuses alcohol, you can relate with the trauma that comes with parental alcoholism. It is imperative that the children and loved ones completely understand it is not their fault their parent or parents abuse alcohol. It is the parent’s decision to drink and it is their decision to choose not to drink. Obtaining information and learning as much as you can about alcoholism is detrimental to getting the right help for a parent who is addicted to alcohol. Problem drinking is a critical matter that needs to be discussed with the parent as a family unit. The conversation might be difficult, but if the parent receives the intervention well, let them know you love them, you respect their decision to get help and you will be supportive during their recovery process.
Children of parental alcohol misuse may be suffering emotionally and physically. Some signs that could alert teachers or caregivers that there could be serious problems at home are truancy, they withdraw from class mates, they complain often of headaches or stomachaches, depression or suicide, and aggression toward other children at school. Teachers and caregivers should let the adolescent know they could benefit from programs for children of alcoholics. They could go to therapy and attend support groups like Al-Anon and Alateen. Group therapy with other adolescents helps to lessen the isolation of being a child whose parent abuses alcohol. Family therapy is available in several rehabs and community centers.