Content Guide a Child to Resources How to Help a Parent With Alcohol Use Disorder APPLY FOR TREATMENT Interpersonal Effects: How Alcoholic Parents Impact Your Relationships You Don’t Outgrow the Effects of an Alcoholic Parent Effects Of An Alcoholic Parent On Children One review and analysis of questionnaires on family dysfunction, childhood abuse, and parental alcoholism assessed alcohol risk as it related to nine ACEs. All were linked to an increased risk of alcoholism in adulthood as well as the likelihood of marrying an alcoholic. Cumulative effects from childhood don’t end at age 18; in fact, they persist long into adulthood and may last for life. The adult child is often an individual of great parallels, seeming fine one minute and not fine the next. Their behaviors may conflict, at times, leaving loved ones and friends feeling confused and unsure of how to approach them. Adult children of alcoholic parents have more control over what kind of relationship they want with their mother or father. Focusing on the love of your children and how your drinking may be affecting them can go a long way toward motivating you to scale back your drinking or stop it altogether. And research shows that when parents reduce alcohol use, especially when children are very young, children do better. According to the journal Pediatrics, children with FAS may also suffer from vision and hearing difficulties, deformed joints and limbs, and heart defects. The disorder can also affect the brain and central nervous system, causing learning disorders, memory problems, poor coordination and balance, hyperactivity, rapid mood changes and other problems. Babies whose mothers consume alcohol while pregnant can develop an array of physical and mental birth defects. Collectively known as fetal alcohol syndrome disorders, this group of conditions can range from mild to severe. Guide a Child to Resources Oftentimes, children of parents struggling with AUD don’t get to act as “children” at home. Ordinary events such as playdates, parent-teacher conferences, and sporting activities—which can typically strengthen the bond between a parent and child—become sources of anxiety and humiliation. Inviting friends over the house can prompt shame because they could be embarrassed by their parent’s behavior, or they may feel the need to keep their parent’s alcoholism a secret. In one study of over 25,000 adults, those who had a parent with AUD remembered their childhoods as “difficult” and said they struggled with “bad memories” of their parent’s alcohol use. This could even be experienced as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), similar to people who had different traumatic childhood experiences. In the US, there are 11 million children under the age of 18 living with at least 1 alcoholic parent. A person in recovery is always potentially at risk of returning to drinking. “Many people with AUD are unable to have healthy conflict, especially when under the influence of alcohol,” says White. Below, you’ll find seven potential ways a parent’s AUD can affect you as an adult, along with some guidance on seeking support. How to Help a Parent With Alcohol Use Disorder If the child is an only child, they may feel very isolated and alone when their parents are drinking. Even if a child has siblings, they may still pull away and feel like no one understands what they are going through or cares. This can be dangerous, as depression can lead to extreme anxiety and suicidal thoughts or actions. Having an alcoholic adult in the household is a great weight for a child to carry. A spouse or significant other may overcompensate by providing all the care to the children, being the sole financial contributor to the household, covering up or hiding the addiction from others, etc. People who suffer from alcohol use disorders often do not realize the effects that their drinking has on other individuals. And, usually, it’s the people who are closest to the person with alcoholism who suffer the most. Millions of Americans suffer from an alcohol use disorder, and many of those individuals are parents of children. Hagströma and Forinder’s findings also revealed two major narrative positions. On the one hand, the children framed themselves as vulnerable victims forced to navigate their parent’s alcoholism, which often encompassed severe neglect, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. APPLY FOR TREATMENT While genes make up about half of an individual’s risk for developing alcoholism, it is not the only contributing factor. The other half depends on an individual’s environment, culture, personality traits, and even brain structure. While we often tend to focus on the difficult experiences, children of parents with AUD can also have many perceived “advantages” or strengths as a result of overcoming their traumatic past. Although nobody asks to grow up living with alcoholic parents or has a choice in the matter, it is important to recognize these children’s resiliency. Research suggests that about 1 in 10 children lives with a parent who has an alcohol use disorder, and about 1 in 5 adults lived with a person who used alcohol when they were growing up. This is often a learned behavior in alcoholic households, where the entire family strives to keep the parent’s addiction secret. In the absence of a stable, emotionally supportive enviornment, you learned to adapt in the only ways you knew how. As an adult, though, you can learn to manage and change specific behaviors that no longer help you, which can improve your overall well-being, https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/how-alcoholic-parents-affect-their-children/ quality of life, and relationships with others. When you don’t learn how to regulate your emotions, you might find it more difficult to understand what you’re feeling and why, not to mention maintain control over your responses and reactions. Difficulty expressing and regulating emotions can affect your overall well-being and contribute to challenges in your personal relationships. Interpersonal Effects: How Alcoholic Parents Impact Your Relationships Additionally, some children of alcoholics unknowingly seek out partners that have similar traits as the alcoholic parent, creating little room for a healthy relationship. Mental health issues can be a symptom of adverse childhood experiences. Research suggests childhood trauma could double your risk of mental illness later in life. Your own addiction can increase your risk for mental health symptoms. Drug and alcohol abuse impact the reward center of the brain, and you can develop mental health symptoms as a result. Furthermore, having a parent with alcohol use disorder puts kids at a higher risk of developing alcoholism in the future.