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Alcoholism: A family affair

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Ibiza Calm - Alcoholism: A family affair
15/02/2024 | category: News

Alcoholism: A family affair

COA Week, (led in the UK, by the charity NACOA UK) is an annual, international campaign to raise awareness of children affected by a parent’s drinking. Run yearly, since 2009, during the week in which Valentine’s Day falls.

NACOA UK (The National Association for the Children of Alcoholics); provides year-round support for anyone affected by a parent’s drinking. It was established in 1990; their vision statement “to provide information, advice and support for children affected by parental alcoholism or similar addictive problem,” was announced in 1991; and the organisation was granted charitable status in 1992.

It has had several notable personalities serve as patron’s, the first being the Rt. Hon. Dr Mo Mowlam MP. The work the charity does to raise awareness of this hidden problem is vitally important, so children, family members, and the loved ones of those affected by their parents drinking, know that there is support available.

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Alcohol and the family.

Alcoholism (or addiction) is a disease that extends its reach far beyond the individual struggling with the illness itself. The impact of excessive or compulsive use of alcohol on those closest to the alcoholic is devastating.

Incredibly dysfunctional relationships will form within a family unit. Members will take on additional and unfamiliar responsibilities. The parent, child, sibling, or partner, of the alcoholic (or addict) are recurrently hurt, distressed, neglected, and beaten down by the continued alcohol (or drug use), despite the negative consequences, and the compulsive need to drink.

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This is often most strongly experienced by the children of alcoholics and addicts. The emotional distance that results from frequent drunken episodes can create barriers in communication and bonding. Children may feel neglected or unimportant, as the focus is less on family responsibilities, more on the consumption of alcohol.

Children need structure, a dependable routine, like regular meals and bedtimes. They need to feel loved and supported, have someone to talk to, to do their homework with, to watch tv alongside. All of this would be difficult for an alcoholic to successfully provide on a consistent basis, particularly as their own lives are commonly full of chaos and drama.

There is often a lot of anger and unease in the home of an alcoholic. When trying to control their compulsion they will be irritable, restless, and easy to rise to an argument. Children are naturally messy and noisy, which can lead to disagreements and frayed nerves. Without meaning to alcoholics take their frustrations out on the children and in the worst cases this can result in violence.

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Children with parents who drink excessively may experience challenges in their academic performance. The role of caregiver may fall on to the child’s shoulders, ensuring that themselves and others, (possibly younger family members or the parent) are fed or that bills are paid on time.

Dealing with these responsibilities, and the emotional stress and instability at home can distract them from their studies, affecting their ability to concentrate and succeed in school. This may have long-term consequences on their educational and professional paths.

Parents serve as role models for their children, and their behaviour significantly influences the development of their offspring. Without the guiding hand of a responsible parent, children can find themselves skipping school or college, damaging their chances of an education. In some instances, they find themselves hanging out in the wrong places, with dangerous people, and getting involved with criminal behaviour, which can lead to trouble with the police.

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When parents engage in excessive drinking, they may unintentionally convey the message that alcohol abuse is an acceptable coping mechanism. This can contribute to a higher likelihood of the children developing similar patterns of behaviour as they grow older.

Children of alcoholics and addicts may be at a higher risk of developing their own substance abuse issues later in life. The normalisation of excessive drinking can contribute to a distorted perception of alcohol consumption, potentially leading to problematic behaviours in the future, such as alcohol and drug misuse; damaging addictive behaviours or compulsions, including eating disorders, anger issues and online gaming or gambling addictions.

Learned behaviour, which then leads to experimentation, or as a way to let off steam, can end with a full-blown addiction.

One of the most common reasons people give for getting help for alcoholism is the realisation of how it has impacted on their family. One of the biggest joys of recovery is being able to repair damaged relationships and for recovering alcoholics to see their children grow up happy and well adjusted.

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Alcohol misuse, alcoholism, alcohol use disorder (AUD)

You may have heard these three words/phrases used when talking about alcohol, drinking and abuse. What is the difference between misuse, alcoholism, and AUD?

Alcohol misuse is the term used when you drink in a way that is harmful-to your health, finances, or relationships. It can also mean that you are dependent on alcohol, emotionally or physically.

Alcohol use disorder is the medical terminology a doctor, therapist or clinician would use to describe someone presenting with signs of a problem with alcohol. It can refer to a diagnosis at varying stages – mild, moderate, or severe, and is usually characterised as having an impaired ability to stop or control one’s use of alcohol, despite repeated negative consequences. AUD is classed as a brain disorder.

Alcoholism, defined by the Oxford languages dictionary as, “addiction to the consumption of alcoholic drink; alcohol dependency,” is a word used in everyday language, it is not a clinical diagnosis but has become very popular amongst fellowship groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and other recovery-based programs.

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Signs of alcohol use disorder

Everyone drinks differently, and what may be a problem for some, might be completely normal for others. If you are concerned about your own drinking, or the drinking of someone you love, here are some potential signs that there could be a problem.

• Drinking larger amounts, or more frequently.

• Failing to keep up with responsibilities at home, or with work.

• Harmful or even dangerous consequences to drinking.

• Struggling to stop or cut back.

• Problems with close relationships due to alcohol.

• Being secretive about amounts drunk or drinking alone.

• Drinking to try and stop feelings.

• Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, tremors, or cravings.

These are just some of the signs that there is an issue with the way you drink. If you find you are drinking when you don’t really want to, you feel guilty about how much or when you are drinking, or that you are drinking despite it causing you either physical or emotional problems then it is a good idea to speak to someone.

Why don’t you try our self-test here?

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Alcohol Rehab Clinic in Spain

If you think that you might be misusing alcohol, then there is plenty of help available. For someone with a serious alcohol problem, residential rehab may prove to be the best option. It gives the individual a chance to get away from any day-to-day issues and enables them to fully focus on their recovery. A well-established private rehab centre, or specialised addiction clinic will use a combination of therapy models to treat an individual’s primary and co-occurring conditions.

Here at our luxury residential alcohol rehab centre, set on the idyllic Balearic Island of Ibiza, we treat clients struggling with alcoholism, addiction, and substance abuse, as well as other underlying and co-occurring mental health conditions, such as trauma, anxiety and depression.

For information regarding all the treatment programmes available at our Spanish rehab centre, and for admissions, please contact [email protected]


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