You can never understand the full impact of what it is like to be the child of an alcoholic unless you have lived it. There is no way for a child to prepare for this kind of life but rather it is something that you just learn as you go along. As the alcoholic moves forward they are usually unaware of the damage that they are leaving behind with their children.
Portrayal of Alcoholics
Old school TV shows portrayed dad as the hard worker that came home from work and mom rushed to serve him an ice cold beer. He then proceeded to sit back and be served the rest of the night while everyone turned a blind eye to the next 11 beers that he sucked down. Mom very rarely touched alcohol except for very special occasions and then it was always no more than one or two “girlie” drinks.
Things have changed quite a bit over the years and mom and dad’s drinking patterns have transformed significantly. Mom can be just as big of a drunk as dad. Working hard or not working hard has no bearing on enjoying their share of alcohol and beer is often replaced with booze. There are no rules and no exceptions. Alcohol or any addiction devastates every family member no matter how young or how old.
Back in the day if an alcohol problem existed, families just coped and swept it under the rug. It was almost always the dad that was the alcoholic. It was kept a secret because of the tremendous amount of shame and guilt that accompanied it. If dad got aggressive when he was drunk and became abusive, that too was covered up. There was an immense lack of education on the subject back then.
Today’s Fight with Alcoholics
Today things are different. Nearly 17.6 million adults in the United States are alcoholics or have alcohol problems, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. People know that if they do not get help for their actively addicted family member their lives will be ruined. They also know that help is available for every family member too.
People are also better educated to understand that their loved ones addiction has nothing to do with them. Alcoholism and addiction destroys the very core of family dynamics. Treatment is the seed that starts the growth of future trust. This is when all of the wreckage starts to be repaired but it cannot ever be erased. Never underestimate the power of treatment. It is the only way to start the process that is necessary to heal yourself and your family.