Any disease, no matter how mild, can have significant impacts on the daily life of the individual and their family and friends. Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder affects more than 15 million adults (18 and older) in the United States. While the effects of this disease can vary greatly from person to person, all individuals are impacted, in one way or another, physically and psychologically.

One aspect of alcoholism that is not often thought about is the impact that it has on the individual’s family and friends. Alcoholism is a family disease, which means that the whole family is affected. Each member of the family (and friends) can be affected differently by this debilitating addiction.

Impact of Alcoholism on the Family

A family living with alcohol abuser is an unsafe environment that can be filled with lies, disruptions to normal routines, dangerous behavior, strained relationships, and unhealthy emotions. Living in a household where a member abuses or is addicted to alcohol can develop into an extremely unhealthy situation over time.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease, meaning that it will get worse over time, and in that case, a family may start out by making excuses or accepting the behavior as out-of-the-normal. Over time, a family can start to manipulate and distort their views of reality in order to maintain the family environment, for the kids or any other reason. Alcoholism and the family are a toxic combination and the disease is extremely detrimental to all who are involved in the life of the addict.

Family members of alcoholics can suffer from a variety of emotions including anxiety, depression, and shame. In addition to the emotions experienced, loved ones can also be victims of emotional or physical abuse, which are serious matters that should not be tolerated by any family.

Sometimes, those who are addicted to alcohol will distance or isolate themselves from their family either in an attempt to shield them from the effects or because of their own shameful feelings and embarrassment towards their disease. However, isolation and neglect often have the opposite effect of what was intended and do nothing to protect the rest of the family from the emotional or other effects of this family disease.

 what effects can alcoholism have on a family

Impact of Alcoholism on the Children

The emotional and physical stress that living in a household with alcoholism can cause may not even be fully realized by the children involved. Strained, unhealthy or even unsafe relationships between the parents can cause turmoil and emotional distress for children, who are often unable to process the situation (depending on the age).

Emotional bonding and relationships with a parent or family member who suffers from alcoholism can be extremely difficult or impossible. This can lead to behavioral problems either in the home, at school or with friends. Schoolwork and academics will suffer, and children of alcoholics may be more impulsive, have trouble forming intimate relationships, and be more dishonest.

Alcoholism can be a crippling addiction that is difficult to escape from and tends to get worse over time if help is not sought out. It is often difficult to see what effects that alcoholism has on the family because the love and emotions are strong to protect and hide their problems from the rest of the world.

However, if you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol abuse or addiction and need help, please contact us at United Recovery. We are here to help because alcohol, like any addiction, is impossible to cure but recovery is very possible. Taking the first step towards recovery takes only a simple call. To find out more about our treatment programs, visit