When alcohol affects family life

You don’t need to be addicted to alcohol for children and family relationships to be affected by your drinking. If a parent, brother or sister misuses alcohol, this can disrupt family life through arguments, tension and fear. It is difficult to live with a parent or family member when their drinking causes problems at home.

How a parent’s drinking can affect their children

While under the influence of alcohol, parents may not understand the impact their behaviour has on their children. It's harmful for children when one or both parents at home misuse alcohol. Children can suffer because:

  • their parents don’t look after them and the child misses school or doesn’t do homework on time or at all
  • their parents neglect them and the child doesn’t get fed well, have suitable clean clothes or have an appropriate bedtime
  • they’re not comfortable inviting friends home and they become isolated
  • they take on caring roles and look after younger brothers and sisters, or they’re responsible for the home
  • they experience emotional and physical abuse
  • there are strained relationships at home

If you are a child or young person in this situation, it’s important to tell somebody so you can get the support you need.

If your drinking is affecting your children’s life, ask your GP about getting help.

How an adult’s drinking can affect their spouse or partner

The drinker is usually torn between wanting alcohol and not wanting the harm that always seems to follow. They often blame others when they drink too much.

The spouse or partner is often fearful and feels hurt, shame and a sense of failure.  Many spouses try to hide the drinker’s problem-drinking by taking on extra responsibilities.

If you’re a spouse or partner in this situation, it is important to take some time for yourself and get support such as counselling.

How a son or daughter’s drinking can affect their home life

If you’re an underage drinker or a young person misusing alcohol and still live in the family home, your family will be concerned about your drinking. Parents object to you drinking alcohol because it damages your health and can affect your school or college education if you miss classes due to tiredness or poor concentration.

Brothers or sisters may also become resentful if your parents’ attention is always on you and your drinking.

If your drinking is causing unhappiness for your family, it is important to get help.

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