Alcoholism of often termed the family illness, referring to the tremendous impact an active alcoholic has on those around him. There is no way the family members can escape or ignore the alcoholic. The majority of the alcoholic impairments are behavioural. So in the day-to-day interactions of family life, the family members are confronted with alcoholic behaviour. The family is, confused, be wildered, angry and afraid. They act accordingly. Their responses characteristically are as impaired as the alcoholic’s.
Certainly no family member ever caused alcoholism. Yet the family may, despites its best intentions, behave in a way that allows the alcoholic to continue drinking. They may protect the alcoholic, make excuses, buy into the alibis, cover up. They might call the employer, pretending the alcoholic is sick. The alcoholic’s actions are bound to increase the family’s anxiety level.
Jackson describes the stages that occur as a family comes to grips with an alcoholic in its midst. Her stages were initially intended to describe the family in which the husband and father is the alcoholic.
Denial:- Early in the development of alcoholism, occasional episodes of excessive drinking are explained away both marriage partners. Drinking because of drunkenness worry, nervousness, or a had day is not unbelievable the assumption is that the episode is an isolated instance and therefore no problem Alcobarrier skład.
Attempts to eliminate the problem:- Here the spouse recognizes that the drinking is not normal and tries to make sure the alcoholic to quit, be more careful, or cut down. Simultaneously, the spouse tries to hide the problem from the outside and keep up a good front. Children in the family may well start having start having problems in response to the family stress.
Disorganization and chaos:- The family equilibrium has now broken down. The spouse can no longer pretend everything is okay and spends most of the time going crisis to crisis. Financial troubles are common. Under real stress, possibly questioning his or her own sanity, the spouse is likely to seek outside help.
Reorganization in spite of the problem:- The spouse’s coping abilities have strengthened. He or she gradually assumes the larger share of responsibility for the family unit. This may mean getting a job or taking over the finances. The major focus of energy is no longer directed toward getting the alcoholic partner to shape up. Instead, the spouse takes charge and fosters family life, despite the alcoholism.
Efforts to escape:- Separation or divorce may be attempted: lithe family unit remains intact, the family continues living around the alcoholic.
Family reorganization:- In the case of separation, family reorganization occurs without the alcoholic member. If the alcoholic achieves sobriety, a reconciliation may take place. Either path will require both partners to realign roles and make new adjustments.
ADDICTION, A FAMILY DISEASE
Addition is a ‘family disease’ that affects not only the addicted individual, but also his family members.
As addiction gets worse day by day, the family is compelled to face several unmanageable problems. Unable to cope with these problems, the family constantly lives under severe tensions and pressure. This results in the family members becoming desperate, angry, frustrated, nervous, afraid and guilty. In many ways they start behaving like the addict, even though they do not take alcohol.
Responses of the family members
a) Denying the problems:- Initially the family members deny or minimize the problems related to his drinking.
b) Justifying his drinking:- The family members give reasons for his drinking.
c) Making changes:- In an attempt to stop his drinking. The family members often believe that they are responsible for the alcoholic’s drinking. They try to solve the problems at home and establish a pleasant atmosphere hoping that he will then give up drinking. The wife goes all out to please the alcoholic-pays his debts to relieve him of his financial burdens.
d) Withdrawing from society:- In spite of their efforts the family members find that he continues to drink. They do not want anyone to know this fact. Thus they become less social and keep away from their relatives and friends. They do not invite anyone home. They feel lonely and at the same time, worthless.
e) Protecting the alcoholic from the consequences of his drinking:- They protect the alcoholic by, covering up the consequences arising out of his drinking thinking that they can make him give up alcohol.
f) Making attempts to control his drinking:- In the hope of getting him out of his problem. The wife may empty or break the bottles, request the alcoholic to drink on only at house and not outside. Tell him not to drink in the mornings. Extract promises from him that he will not drink when there are guests at home. Unable to achieve anything, the family members feel angry, let down, bitter. Initially the anger, and hatred are directed towards the alcoholic, gradually, the focus is lost and they get angry with everyone around.
g) Losing control over oneself:- The family members give up all attempts to control his drinking because they realize that these methods do not help. Thus they may decide to refrain from getting angry. But they are unable to control their emotions and shot at the alcoholic for drinking heavily, beat the children for minor mistakes committed by them, get anxious about the alcoholic when he does not come home till dark etc. Her own behaviour makes her wonder whether she is losing her sanity.
h) Fear of the future:- The family members are very worried and scared. For them, the future looks bleak. Tomorrow is a big question mark.
i) Trying to reorganize the household:- They have absolutely no control over the alcoholic and the family members are not able to relay on him for anything. Their she takes up the complete responsibility of running the family and the alcoholic is only looked upon as a defiant angry child.
j) Breaking away from the alcoholic:- As the disease of alcoholism worsens the wife believers that she can lead a life independent of the alcoholic. She is -also worried that if left alone, he may ruin himself. These lead too lots of conflicts in her mind, feeling disgusted, she may leave him for a short period of time but, she normally comes back.
k) Allowing the alcoholic to face a crisis:- The wife stops taking any responsibility for the consequences of the alcoholic behaviour.
Emotional responses of the family members
1) Guilt – Our culture impels that if a person drinks too much, his parents or wife is to be blamed. This attitude of society often leads to self-blame and it produces more guilt and shame. This prevents both: he alcoholic and the family members from developing self-awareness which can lead to a positive change.
2) Grief – It is the result of all sorts of losses-loss of prestige, personal dignity, care, understanding and love, friends, finances-loss in each and every area of their life. They do not share their feelings of grief with anyone, they suffer alone.
3) Anger – When no one cares to listen to them the family members experiences anger and deep sadness. Their utter helplessness makes them angry. They are angry with themselves.
4) Hurt – If the anger is suppressed and not let out, it results in frustration, resentment and hurt feelings and anxiety.
5) Shame – The in appropriate behaviour of the alcoholic in front of relatives and friends makes the family embarrassed. Shame produce slow self worth in each members of the family leading to social isolation.
6) Fear – Living in a problematic distressed family, produces fear-fear of the future, fear of family life, fear of financial matters, fear or helps, fear of arguments, fear their physical well-being. There feelings of fear are a result of the internalized emotional stress that each and every family members experiences.
7) Loneliness – The stressful situation in the alcoholic’s family results in the breakdown of normal family communications. Love, Care and Concern are lost in the stress, anxiety and crisis experienced. The isolation created by lack of communication always leads to bitter loneliness.
The children of alcoholics learn three unwritten laws or self imposed commands. They are ‘don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel’. They may play one or more roles within family. ie, responsible child, adjusting child, placating child, rebellious child.
Though they are harmful to our family relations, being related, we have the moral right to love, care, and help them to come out of it. For that psychological efforts have to be promoted. As the medical science has developed more in this century, the addition could be cured by root.
The effects on the children of alcoholics