Alcohol as a cause of family problems

Another manner of understand the impact of problematic drinking on the family is to see how alcohol misuse affects the structure and functioning of the family as a system of relationships. This has been described in the following terms.

12 step group



Most families operate some form of division of labor. As one member develops more of a drink problem other members are required to take over his or her role themselves. The children may be forced to adopt adult roles and responsibilities and may also be forced to assume a kind of emotional responsibility for the family.



Family gatherings (Christmas, birthdays etc) designed to celebrate and cement family relationships may become fraught with disruption and difficulty, either because the problem drinker is absent, or perhaps much worse, because they are present.




The problem drinker’s Behavior is likely to be unpredictable and disruptive, impairing the family’s capacity to plan or stick to routines. Uncertainty and anxiety are constant features in the life of such a family.


Social life


The drinker becomes unwilling or unable to participate in family activities. It becomes impossible to invite others into the home or accept invitations out. The family becomes socially isolated, and relationships outside the home are severely restricted.


Finances – Money spent on alcohol is not available for other purposes, and an alcohol problem may impair or destroy the drinkers ability to earn a livelihood.




Alcohol and drinking may come to be the focus of all communication between family members, as well as it affecting the quality of communications, with discussions quickly turning into rows and fights.




Family conflict is probably the most significant consequence of parental problem drinking, with children often witnessing, or being involved in domestic violence.


From the BriefTSF book



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