Life With An Alcoholic

If you have a friend or family member who is abusing alcohol, you may not be aware of the ways in which their drinking affects your behavior. In a family with a parent abusing alcohol, this parent is unable to fulfill his or her "normal" functions. Often other people step into the gap to take care of what isn't being done. Because alcoholics are undependable and their behavior is unpredictable, family members and friends of alcoholics may feel as if they are "walking on eggshells" — trying to carefully avoid doing or saying anything that may upset the alcoholic or cause him or her to reach for a drink.

Living in an alcoholic home can make relationships nearly impossible and place a heavy burden on the teen whose parent or friend is suffering from alcoholism. You may be reluctant to invite friends to your home if you have a parent whose behavior has been affected by alcohol. You may feel that you need to "fill in" for an alcoholic parent—by phoning the job to say that he or she is "sick" and can't come to work or by cooking or shopping or caring for younger brothers and sisters. You may feel as if you need to constantly watch what you say or do to avoid upsetting a parent who has had too much to drink. Or, you may become accustomed to the fact that a parent may not show up when expected—at your football game, to pick you up from school, or for an important event. This kind of behavior is called enabling.

Enabling means that you "enable"—or make it possible— for the alcoholic person to continue to abuse alcohol without being forced to confront the true consequences of his or her actions. Your family continues to function because everybody fills in the gaps or changes how they would otherwise behave in order to accommodate the person who has been drinking.

The same thing is true when the alcoholic is not a member of your family but someone you care about—a boyfriend or girlfriend or a close friend. Enabling their behavior doesn't necessarily mean that you're the one who pours the drinks or drives to a place where the person can drink. It means that you make it possible for someone you care about to continue to abuse alcohol. Perhaps you share your notes or the details of the homework assignment if he or she falls asleep in class or misses class altogether. Maybe you let a friend spend the night at your house to prevent the friend's parents from finding out about their son's or daughter's drinking. Maybe you explain away your girlfriend's drunken behavior at a party by telling others that she's been under a lot of stress lately. Perhaps you excuse a boyfriend's violence or angry outbursts by blaming yourself. These are all signs that you are making it possible for someone you care about to continue to do something that is hurting them—and could hurt others.

Remember that you are not really helping your friend. By

ALCOHOLISM IN THE FAMILY: THE STRAIGHT FACTS

If you are living in a family where someone is abusing alcohol, you can feel as if your family is completely different from any other you know. It is important to remember that you can get help, and that you are not alone. In fact, many people report having an alcoholic family member or dealing with family issues surrounding alcohol abuse:

• About 43 percent of all adults in the U.S. (approximately 76 million Americans) say that they have been exposed to alcoholism in their family.

• Nearly one out of every five adults (18 percent) in the U.S. lived with an alcoholic while growing up.

• There are nearly 27 million children of alcoholics living in the U.S. Research suggests that more than 11 million of them are under the age of 18.

[Source: National Association for Children of Alcoholics]

taking on your friend's responsibilities or by accommodating his or her moods, you are preventing your friend from beginning to get help for the disease.

HOW CAN I TELL IF MY FRIEND HAS A PROBLEM?

People who are drinking too much can find it difficult to recognize that they are no longer in control. They may not appreciate how their drinking is affecting others, and they may believe that they are in control.

How can you tell if a friend or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol? The Harvard School of Public Health has put together a checklist of warning signs. If your friend has one or more of the following symptoms, he or she may have a problem with alcohol:

• He or she gets drunk on a regular basis.

• He or she lies about how much alcohol they have been drinking.

• The person you care about avoids activities he or she used to enjoy in order to get drunk.

• He or she avoids you in order to get drunk.

• He or she plans drinking in advance, hides alcohol, or drinks alone.

• He or she has to drink more to get the same high.

• He or she believes that you need to drink in order to have fun.

• He or she frequently suffers hangovers.

• He or she pressures others to drink.

• The person you care about forgets what he or she did while drinking.

• He or she has been suspended from school—or fired from a job—for an alcohol-related incident.

• He or she takes risks, including sexual risks.

• He or she constantly talks about drinking.

• He or she is feeling run-down, hopeless, depressed, or even suicidal.

Binge drinking, defined as 5 or more alcoholic drinks consumed on one occasion, is often encouraged in social situations throughout high school and college. Researchers at Duke University hypothesize that binge drinking may pose a special risk to adolescents, like learning difficulties and memory loss.

Beat The Battle With The Bottle

Beat The Battle With The Bottle

Alcoholism is something that can't be formed in easy terms. Alcoholism as a whole refers to the circumstance whereby there's an obsession in man to keep ingesting beverages with alcohol content which is injurious to health. The circumstance of alcoholism doesn't let the person addicted have any command over ingestion despite being cognizant of the damaging consequences ensuing from it.

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