Alcoholism Essay, Research Paper
Alcoholism;Does It Only Affect The User?
Many people don t realize how greatly alcoholic parents affect children. I have experienced most of the effects myself. Growing up in the house under the supervision of an alcoholic can be very painful. Doing this paper gave me a lot of insight on myself. I found some reason as to why I am the way I am. Although it might not be as fatal as fetal alcohol syndrome, it can definitely shape the way a person handles themselves in many different situations.
One in five Americans lived with an alcoholic while growing up, (Torr 30). In my opinion, this is a rather high statistic. They are also, Four times more likely than other children to become alcoholics, (Torr 30). In a lot of cases alcoholism can be hereditary. You ll find that most alcoholics have a parent who was an alcoholic. In my case, my mother was an alcoholic, her father was an alcoholic, and his father was an alcoholic.
This is usually the general knowledge of the subject to the average person. What they do not know, is that it goes much deeper than that. The child may not even realize that a lot of their actions are due to certain feelings that are caused by the alcoholic parent. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has found that most commonly the child will experience failure in school, lack of friends, delinquent behavior, and risk taking behavior. It may even go as far as physical complaints, aggression, depression, or suicidal thoughts, and of course abuse of alcohol or drugs (Torr 31). I personally believe that if most parents knew that these would be the consequences their children would have to suffer, they would have never let themselves become an alcoholic. If the alcoholic is usually in denial about their problem, how could they make the connection of their child s behavior with their own? Sixty percent of Americans between the ages of twenty-six to thirty four were current users of alcohol in 1997(U.S. Census Bureau 152). I m assuming this to be a very prime age of parenthood. So therefore, roughly sixty percent of those parents are very likely to become alcoholics. The chances of children not facing any consequences, living with an alcoholic are not very good.
Most of the consequences stem from somewhere deep that the child will scarcely let known.
- Guilt. The child will see himself or herself as the reason for the mother s or father s drinking.
- Anxiety. The child may worry constantly about the situation at home. He or she may fear that the alcoholic parent may become sick or injured, and may also fear fights and violence between the parents.
- Embarrassment. Parents may give the child the message that there is a terrible secret at home. The ashamed child does not invite friends home and is afraid to ask anyone for help.
- Inability to have close relationships. Because the child has been disappointed, he or she often does not trust others.
- Confusion. The alcoholic parent will change suddenly from being loving to angry, regardless of the child s behavior. A regular daily schedule, which is important for a child, does not exist because bedtimes and mealtimes are constantly changing
- Anger. The child feels anger at the alcoholic parent for drinking, and may be mad at the non-alcoholic parent for lack of support and protection.
- Depression. The child feels lonely and helpless to change the situation. (Torr 31)
A child can suffer dramatically from this. It can shape their whole entire life. You have to ask yourself how your child s future depends on this. The alcoholic parent is causing these feelings to stir inside the child. Coping with these feelings could put a great deal of stress on the child, especially when no one is taking any notice to them. It is clear to see why the child would turn to the behavior that they eventually do.
Another way that the children will be affected is by causing them to play roles. Something I ve known for a long time is that the eldest child will tend to take on the role of the parent. I guess that they see the neglect of the younger child on the mother s behalf and they don t like it. It is just an initial reaction to protect your younger siblings from any type of harm. This can lead to a lot of conflict between the siblings. Most often, the eldest girl will take the role of her mother.
For a long time my older sister took care of me. Most of the time my mother was there, but she really wasn t there. My sister would cook dinner, clean the house, and make sure I did my homework. This obviously would create a mother daughter relationship. When my sister no longer had the responsibility of taking care of me, we couldn t develop a friend-ship at all. I couldn t go to her for advice, or to confide in her about anything. This caused us to fight constantly.
Sometimes playing the mother role can be even worse. One counselor estimates that half the women she sees at a treatment center for alcoholics and drug addicts were involved in incest with either a father or a brother (Youcha 149). That, fortunately was not the case in my family. Although, I cannot imagine the toll it would take on a young girl for the rest of her life. She ll probably blame herself for it, and she ll have no self-confidence or self esteem. This could not only lead toward depression, but it can lead toward this person being afraid of any type of sexual engagement. She might even turn to alcohol to just ease the pain and make it go away. These young women, sucked into a vicious cycle, can easily become helpless.
It is not quite often that a young women can be helped before she turns to alcohol. Although, if educated and helped as to why she feels the way she does and how to cope with it, she can be steered in a healthy direction. An older boy might play out his fantasies of being his mother s rescuer (Youcha 149). I remember my brother trying to fight off my father when he and my mother were fighting. The boy can see his mother s hurt and doesn t want to see her suffer. This especially would occur if the parent s abuse of alcohol were due to marital problems. This could greatly affect the young man s relationship with his father. This young man will most often hold his feelings inside and only express them through anger or immature behavior.
It could be very upsetting to see how alcohol can destroy a family. Now, we know what alcoholism can do to a family. It is not fair that the children have to suffer the consequences without even using. Later on in life, these children have difficulty with relationships. They are afraid of being put out there. They are afraid of being vulnerable. If they know your weaknesses it is easier for them to knock you down.
What I believe to be the worst consequence of growing up in the house with an alcoholic is the high chances of becoming an alcoholic yourself. Anna Quuinden says, While even young children know that cocaine and heroin are nothing but trouble, while even young children know that cigarettes cause cancer, what they know and learn and believe about booze and wine and beer is different because it is in the refrigerator and use themselves. (Leone 28) They think that it is okay, that it is normal, it s just not right for them to think that.
It really is a shame how prone they are to becoming alcoholics. They are so easily addicted. That can be with anything from smoking to eating. It s just such an addictive personality. If they re hurting they re going to remember exactly what their parent did to ease the pain.
It is just not a very fair thing ti do to your child. The parent is not thinking to put down that drink because it might somehow affect the way that child handles his or her first real relationship. The alcoholic, a selfish person in denial, has a disease that cannot be cured. It can only be helped. That is only when the alcoholic is ready to admit that they have a problem. The one thing that can be done is that if you know a child that is in this situation, do your best to have them removed. Believe me, they will thank you later on.