It is estimated that 76 million Americans, or over 40 percent of the adult population in the United States, have been exposed to alcoholism in their family. More disturbing is that one in five Americans lived with an alcoholic parent while growing up. Alcoholic parents are demonstrably lacking in basic parenting skills. Diseases like alcoholism will affect an entire family. What may have started out as occasional drinks with friends has turned into a full-blown problem. Alcoholism is a disease and needs to be treated like one.
Alcoholism in families induces violent behavior, abnormal mood swings, financial strain, and continuous fighting. Often co-morbid psychiatric illnesses develop, too. Sadly, alcoholism tends to run in families with children of alcoholics four times more likely to become alcoholics than children of non-alcoholics. Some suspect a genetic factor while others emphasize the role of the family. The model the substance abusing parent sets clearly has an impact on a teenager.
Teenage children of alcoholics are also more likely to turn to drugs. Usually, they turn to drugs because of a lack of parental intervention. The parent is too involved with her addiction to be able to support good choices with her teenagers. Often parents don’t even realize that their addiction adversely affects their children and they certainly don’t realize how difficult it is on their kids.
Children of alcoholics are more likely to be the victims of abuse, and more will witness family violence. They also exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety more frequently than the children of parents who do not abuse drugs and alcohol. Difficulties in school are very common, even though this usually does not indicate any lack of intellectual ability. The lack of healthy stimulation in the home is implicated in the teen’s academic problems. Children of alcoholics are more likely to drop out of school, repeat grades, be truant, or be referred for behavioral problems to school counselors or psychologists.
This blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.