5 Ways Alcoholism Affects Your Loved Ones

These days, it’s not unheard of to hear of or know someone personally who has ever struggled with excessive drinking.

If you do know of someone personally who’s addicted to alcohol, then you’ll know that alcoholism and addictions don’t just affect the individual who’s addicted to the substance.

The effects hit the family hard, too.

One of the keywords associated with alcoholics is ‘selfishness’ because even though they’re destroying their lives and the lives of the people around them, they continue to drink.

However, in this day and age, people understand that addictions and alcoholism are not that simple.

It can take individual years to quit alcohol, and friends and families should be prepared to stick by and help them throughout the process.

Likewise, the individual should understand and appreciate the ways in which the addiction can affect your loved ones.

1. Missing Events & Special Occasions

A common consequence of alcohol addiction is the individual often missing events and special occasions such as birthday parties, weddings, christenings and other events.

This is because when someone is addicted to alcohol, they tend to spend a lot of time on their own and decide to exclude themselves from other people.

This may be because they’re worried that alcohol might be present at these events, and simply don’t trust themselves around alcohol; especially in front of family and friends.

They might be worried that their family and friends might realise they’re drinking too much and try to put a stop to it.

Or, they’re simply ashamed or worried that when drunk, they might make a fool of themselves.

Additionally, it’s sometimes a struggle for those struggling with their addiction to keep track of days and time.

Therefore, they might simply forget to attend the event or special occasion, or they might turn up late.

In turn, this excludes the individual from their loved one and makes them come across as simply ‘unreliable’ or that they don’t care.

When, in reality, they need love and support more than ever.

2. Stress & Worry

When a loved one is addicted to alcohol, it causes great stress and worries for their loved ones. Whether it’s their parents, children, spouses, grandparents or friends.

They might stress about the individual’s health and their future, as well as short term issues such as how they’re going to keep their job or simply pay their rent.

Parents and children might start to blame themselves for their loved one’s addiction.

In particular, children of an individual that suffers from addiction might start playing up in school or causing more issues than usual at home.

Parents might start to fall behind at work, struggle to sleep or enter a state of depression or anxiety. This can create other stresses, such as financial burdens.

As a result of the stress caused by a loved one’s addiction, partners might start to argue more with their loved one, lose patience, regret or resent their relationship.

All of this stress compounded with the pre-existing everyday stress of life can push certain family members overboard.

As a result, they might follow their loved one’s lead and develop a substance addiction for themselves.

It’s also important to remember that stress is known to induce health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, a weakening immune system, depression and anxiety.

3. Money Issues

If you’ve ever bought alcohol, you’ll know that not all alcohol is cheap.

In particular, certain liquors which contain more alcohol such as vodka or gin are the most expensive.

Because of this, individuals suffering from an addiction struggle with their money.

As a result of their addiction, they also struggle to keep their job, creating more financial burdens.

Typically, this financial burden falls onto those closest to the individual, such as their close family and friends.

This means covering payments for the individual or handing them cash just to get by.

4. Child Neglect

Unfortunately, children of alcoholic parents are often neglected a lot in different ways.

They might be neglected by their basic needs, such as being fed, washed or put to bed at the right time. This is simply because individuals suffering from an alcohol addiction easily lose track of time.

The children of people suffering from addiction might also suffer from more behavioural or emotional issues, which might lead to developmental struggles later in life, too.

These children might start struggling in school or college, develop anxiety or depression, struggle to express their emotions or gain a tendency to lie.

These consequences can stay with an individual for life, and result in more serious consequences further down the line.

5. Domestic Abuse & Issues at Home

A startling realisation is that unfortunately, an addiction to alcohol in the family increases the risk of domestic abuse. This abuse could be physical, or emotional.

This is because those suffering from an addiction often take out their anger and frustration on their close family and friends.

In an attempt to deflect the attention away from them, they might try to highlight other people’s issues or cause arguments.

Unfortunately, The World Health Organisation [WHO] has reported that 55% of physical abuse cases between partners, in particular, is caused by one of the individuals being intoxicated [1].

How to Approach Someone about their Drinking Habits

If you’ve ever tried to speak to a loved one about their addiction, then you’ll know it’s never easy.

You might be concerned that they’ll lash out, refuse to admit their problems or get defensive. You might worry that this will only push them further into their addiction.

It’s important to understand that these reactions are all very common, and if your loved one reacts like this, this doesn’t mean you should give up.

This doesn’t mean you can force someone to seek help, but there are ways you can help them.

If you’re unsure of how to approach someone about their alcohol addiction, then you can take the following steps [2]:

  • Try and pick a time when they’re not drinking. You want to be relaxed and on the same page. It’s also a good idea to pick somewhere to talk that’s calm, and private, such as an empty house or local park.
  • Discuss your feelings and worries in a nice way. You should explain to them that their addiction is not only having an effect on themselves and their health but others close to them too.
  • You should ask open-ended questions and an attempt for them to explain their addiction and open up. They might be feeling things you haven’t ever considered, such as boredom or loneliness. The more you know and understand about them, the more you’ll be able to help them.
  • Look into planning an intervention for your loved one. Again, this should be done in a calm and relaxed manner, and you can research how to stage a successful intervention online.

Things You Can do to Encourage Recovery

Support from friends and family is key to anyone’s recovery.

Therefore, as a family member or friend, it’s really important to understand the ways in which you can help and aid their recovery.

As a loved one, here are a few things you can do to encourage someone to seek recovery [2]:

  • Highlight new activities and interests that they might have already shown an interest in.
  • Suggest meeting up in social situations that don’t involve drinking, such as a walk in a park.
  • Help the individual to identify the issues that may have led them to their addiction.
  • Try to avoid enabling their addiction. Do not offer to buy them a drink, even if they seem to be back on track.
  • Work with them to identify triggers, and help them figure out how to deal with their triggers better.
  • You should also understand that a relapse can happen at any time, and prepare yourself for them.

By following these steps, hopefully, your loved one will understand you’re just acting in their best interest and will be willing to consider entering themselves into recovery.


[1] https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/factsheets/fs_intimate.pdf

[2] ​​https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/helping-someone-with-a-drinking-problem.htm#