Effects of Having an Alcoholic Father
The experience of having a father who suffers from alcohol use disorder (AUD) can be painful and confusing An alcohol use disorder (AUD) affects not only the user but can also affect the people in the user’s life. Because addiction is a family disorder, siblings, spouses, parents, and children also experience the consequences of alcoholism. Drinking alcohol has a very little stigma and is often synonymous with social activities.
The social acceptability of alcohol makes it easy for some to develop dependencies on or addictions to alcohol. This inability to control alcohol use can cause individuals not to meet their obligations at home, work, and school. When a father has an alcohol use disorder and can’t meet their responsibilities, there can be negative effects for the child that can last into adulthood. Having an alcoholic father can impact any and all aspects of a child’s life.
Children with alcoholic parents are four times as likely to engage in excessive drinking at some point in their life. This can be attributed to genetic factors related to addiction or the normalization of unhealthy drinking habits in their family. As a result, they can experience depression, loneliness, anxiety, anger issues, guilt, and an inability to trust. Exploring typical environments and associated trauma can help adult children of addiction heal the wounds caused by their parent’s alcohol use disorder.
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Growing Up with an Alcoholic Father
According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, around 30 million children are born to alcoholic parents. The term adult child of an alcoholic (ACoA) was derived in an attempt to describe the unique characteristics generally found among individuals who grew up with parents who either or struggled with alcohol abuse.
Recent evidence has suggested that children of alcoholics are at significant risk for a variety of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems when compared to peers who were not raised by alcoholic parents. Children from parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are the group most at risk for later developing problems with substances, likely due to both genetics and environmental factors. Children of addicted parents are also most likely to suffer child abuse and neglect, compounding existing predispositions towards mental illness and substance abuse.
The family environment of alcoholics is typically marked by a significant degree of chaos. Alcoholic families tend to be driven by a system of rigidity, such as a lack of flexibility and arbitrary rules, that predispose children to develop a sense of overwhelm or confusion. This response is marked by feelings of fear that remain unexpressed or unresolved, which can lead to emotional shutting down and detachment from loved ones.
At times, children of alcoholics may start to feel as though they are responsible for the problems associated with their alcoholic father. They may even believe that they created the problem. For instance, the child of an alcoholic may feel responsible and needlessly guilty for needing new shoes or clothes because they believe that this in some way contributes to the family’s stress over finances. They might assume the role of needing to take care of their “sick” father – a role that can sometimes remain intact in later relationships.
Children of alcoholic fathers endure chronic and extreme levels of tension and stress as the result of growing up in a home with a father struggling with alcohol abuse.
Very young children may exhibit symptoms of:
- Nocturnal enuresis (i.e., bedwetting)
- Frequent nightmares
- Separation anxiety
- Crying or problems with becoming unusually upset
Older children of alcoholics exhibit symptoms of:
- Obsessiveness (e.g., overly rigid, intense need for perfection, hoarding, isolation and withdrawal, excessive self-consciousness).
- Depression (e.g., apathy, excessive guilt, feelings of hopelessness, and helplessness)
The Harm Caused By An Alcoholic Parents
Children of alcoholics face a wide range of challenges. They may grow up in an unstable household. And once they become adults, they may struggle with relationships, or with knowing what behaviors are normal and healthy.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Alcoholics and the children who love them can get help, recover, and build happy, healthy lives. But until parents seek medical help for their drinking problem, here are some of the risks their children could face.
Higher risk of alcoholism
Children of alcoholic fathers are more vulnerable to developing an alcohol problem later in life. Alcohol use disorder may have some genetic components. Living with an alcoholic parent can also normalize heavy drinking and the harmful behaviors it causes.
Many children of alcoholic fathers experience some form of neglect or abuse. Alcoholics may take their anger and frustration out on their children. This affects their development and understanding of the world.
Abuse may heighten a child’s expectations of their own relationships. This can affect virtually everything about a child’s life. It could raise their risk of choosing abusive partners or becoming abusive themselves later on.
Neglecting the child’s basic needs
When an alcoholic drinks, they cannot think clearly. This may cause them to neglect their child’s most basic needs for safety, food, medical care, and protection.
Children may believe that they are not good enough for the alcoholic father to change their behavior, Oftentimes, children will struggle with the idea (consciously or subconsciously) that if their alcoholic father really loved them, they wouldn’t choose their alcohol addiction over their child. This can be incredibly detrimental to a child’s sense of self-worth, and they oftentimes carry this belief into adulthood.
For some children, the damage to their self-worth may raise their chances for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Others struggle with motivational difficulties, learning disorders, or personality disorders. Some turn to alcohol or other drugs as a form of self-medication.
Research suggests that children growing up with alcoholic fathers are at risk of skipping classes, dropping out of school, having trouble behaving in school, and getting bad grades. This may be due to stress at home but can also happen because the child does not have enough support to succeed at school from their parents. In some cases, children struggle in school because of other effects of growing up with alcoholic parents, such as getting attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression.
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Can You Learn To Understand An Alcoholic?
If you have managed to avoid having an alcohol abuse problem yourself, you may have a hard time understanding your alcoholic father. However, your path to forgiveness may start with understanding and compassion. Read up and do research on the disease of alcohol use disorder and try to learn why certain individuals are vulnerable to it and the impact it has. You may even want to talk to your mother or father about it. If he or she is willing to open up, you can learn just what the struggle has been like. Maybe your parent experienced abuse as a child. If you can understand the motivation behind your parent’s drinking, you may find the compassion to forgive.
Can You Let Go Of Resentments?
One of the biggest roadblocks to forgiveness is resentment. This ugly specter lives with you day in and day out. The more you think about how your alcoholic father impacted your life in a negative way, the bigger this resentment becomes. It is a toxic feeling and will hinder you in everything you do. Even if you cannot yet forgive your father, learn to let go of the resentment so that you can better function.
Remember The Good Times
Few alcoholic parents are so terrible that they never cared for their children at all. As you try to let go of resentment and attempt to cultivate compassion, think back to your childhood and try to remember the happy moments. Make a list of all the memories of a happy and caring parent. Remembering these moments and the feelings that accompanied them will help you to journey closer toward forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a choice, and it is a healthy one. Your life will only get better when you are able to forgive your parent. You will be able to rebuild a relationship and you will be able to let go of resentment. You will feel as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
The Power of Forgiving an Alcoholic Parent
Forgiveness, as the experts say, is a choice. If a person has wronged you, you cannot wait for forgiveness to appear. You must make a conscious decision to forgive. You also cannot wait for the person who wronged you to apologize. It may never happen. Forgiving someone is a personal choice and one that can give you many benefits. Researchers know that by actively forgiving, you can expect to experience better relationships, less stress, less depression, and even lower blood pressure and a lowered risk of substance abuse.
If the forgiveness you are considering means letting go of the harm and neglect you faced as a child because of a parent’s alcoholism, it will not be easy. Whether your alcoholic father physically abused you, or simply was never there for you emotionally, you suffered greatly as a result. Forgiveness may be something you have considered, but are struggling to get through. With some understanding, compassion, and a suspension of resentment, you can forgive and move on with your life.
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Family Programs are most often used to help treat an individual’s problem that is affecting the entire family, such as addiction, depression, or behavioral problems. Addiction affects more than just the patient, it affects everyone around them, particularly their families. That is why it is important to support both the alcoholic and his or her loved ones. Also, it is important to address the ways alcohol addiction has impacted the whole family.
When seeking treatment, your family also needs to heal and learn how to support you in your journey. A family therapy program provides the initial resources and support needed by your families to enjoy exceptional and comprehensive treatment recovery.
Alcohol addiction and corresponding mental health illnesses touch virtually all aspects of a person’s relationships. Negatively impacting and even destroying family relationships, extending to erosion of work and social life relationships. Because families play such an important and critical role in recovery, treatment services deal with enabling behaviors and touching on earlier traumas. Family involvement opportunities/updates/discussions along with family dynamics therapies should be included in treatment modalities.
Family Therapy Session
Family therapy is usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker, or licensed therapist. Patients need to trust their therapist to be able to open up and talk about their issues. Parents, whether married or divorced, spouses, grandparents, and even siblings may visit or attend the sessions or scheduled family visitation timeframe by invitation along with client and therapist approvals. Al We Level Up, clients are eligible for weekly individual therapy plus family session. The client’s family therapist will accommodate more sessions throughout the week if the client agrees and requests additional involvement. The clinical group schedule runs daily and includes family education plus caseload groups. Therapy programs may include family dynamics. Each rehabilitation program and facility services vary. Please call us for more about family resources and support services available to inpatient clients.
Family therapy is often short-term. It may include all family members or just those able or willing to participate. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your family’s situation. Family therapy sessions can teach you skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you’re done going to therapy sessions.
Benefits of Family Therapy from Family Support and Programming
Family therapy for addiction helps the person suffering from alcohol use disorder as well as their family. Because addiction can affect everyone in different ways, the entire family unit may need the opportunity to come together and heal from addiction or substance use. Individual therapy and group counseling sessions at We Level Up are available to the patient enrolled in our drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs. Coaching, updates, and reports from the client’s therapist to family members may be made available with HIPPA client approval required.
Therapy sessions allow family members to voice their concerns privately, group therapy allows each person to discuss their feelings, opinions, and perceptions of the situation in a more secure and controlled environment. These counseling sessions help clients begin the healing process, move past the substance use disorder, and feel like their voice is heard.
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Help Your Loved One – Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Alcohol Problems
Alcohol is the most abused addictive substance in America, as more than 17 million people in the United States are considered to suffer from addiction to alcohol. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), publishes that over 1.5 million American adults were considered to be currently abusing a prescription drug.
Hoping this article guide you on how to forgive an alcoholic father. To determine the most effective ways to treat alcohol addiction, it’s crucial to first get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment. Very often, some combination of psychotherapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes are effective for coping with functional.
Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of alcohol withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.
Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.
Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.”
- Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
- Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.
Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.
Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency. It can lead to complications such as choking, brain damage, and even death. Prompt alcohol poisoning treatments can help prevent these complications from occurring. If an alcoholic decides to stop drinking, they may alcohol experience withdrawal effects such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and tremors. The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term drug abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition such as depression, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.
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 NIAAA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/where-can-family-members-go-information-treatment
 NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide/evidence-based-approaches-to-treating-adolescent-substance-use-disorders/family-based-approaches
 NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs
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