November 29, 2007
Impact on the Alcoholic and the Family
There are addicts of all sorts all over. Now with the neoclassical definition that many are proposing it would seem that every single individual is an addict of some kind and it is only the level of addiction that varies. Addiction is a persistent on-going condition where the individual or animal would crave for a particular substance(s) or seek to repeat certain behavior(s) in order to satisfy a need(s). As is being proposed this in itself is not a problem until the individual becomes physiologically or psychological unstable when that need is not satisfied (then there is no more self-control).
It is this lost of control on the part of alcoholics and other addicts that affect every single aspect of society. First and foremost the individual is affected in a variety of ways depending on his addiction. There are those addictions that are not obvious to anyone and may remain hidden and kept secret from those close to you as well as the outside world for several years (in fact others will only know of it after you have confessed). Then there are addictions that are a little more obvious but only to those who are close to you (friends and family members) and can only be kept secret for so long. Then there are addictions that you could see from a mile way (so obvious it stinks). At every level, the individual and by extension society is affected in some way or another.
Individuals who through abuse of alcohol have become addicted are more than likely to undergo a personality change. This change of personality will definitely affect anyone who is close to them. Some alcohol addictions lead to indifference to matters and issues that were once of serious interest to the alcoholic (a college education may no longer be their top priority!). Work ethics and the sense of responsibility that an addicted person once had would no longer be upheld. Personal pride (being neat and well groomed has now taken a back seat) and self-esteem would suffer, leading to actions that are uncharacteristic of the individual.
All of these effects of alcoholism would then be spilled over into other areas of their lives. Lack of work ethics and the continuous deterioration of the quality of work they produce may lead to them eventually losing their jobs, which in turn affects the finance and well being of their family. Uncharacteristic behavior of the alcoholic could cause them to become abusive (whether it be physical, emotional or mental) to their spouse and children. There is the factor of risk-taking where their life and that of those around them become less important and they are likely to place themselves and others in life-threatening situations. Alcoholism in many cases, may lead to disassociation from friends and family members in an effort by the alcoholic to either hide his addiction or avoid criticism from others about his addiction.
Alcoholism that has lead to the addict withdrawing from close friends and in particular family members could have serious emotional effects. In many cases family members who are close to the alcoholic are completely taken aback after becoming aware of the addict’s problem. This may seem rather impossible as there are obvious indicators of smell and lack of coordination among other things that would indicate that someone has been under the influence. While this may be true and family members are aware of the signs of the individual being under the influence of alcohol; you often find that it is only late into the addiction that they become convinced that the individual is an alcoholic; as much effort is usually made by alcoholics to conceal their alcoholism from other individuals.
Then there is the abuse that close family members, in particular spouses and children, are likely to be subjected to. These are likely to have even longer lasting impact on the family. In many cases, after the alcoholism has been dealt with and treated, the scars from such abuse would remain as a thorn when trying to mend broken relationships. For many families involving alcoholism, the deal breaker is money. Some addictions may lead to job loss for the victims; and financial problems for their family. Studies have shown that many families under financial pressure can only hold on for so long before it all comes caving in. In some cases you may find that these very alcoholics, in order to sustain their habit, would initially deplete all of their own money (savings and joint-savings with spouse); and when that is done, try to do the same to other family members. With the alcoholic’s obvious indifference to such problems and the financial strain that would be created would result in unwanted consequences. This is likely to lead to delinquencies in meeting certain obligations such as mortgage payments and utilities, which would only serve to aggravate the family situation.
Alcohol abuse, like any other drug, also greatly increases the risk of individuals developing health problems. Complications with liver, kidneys and a whole lot of other vital body organs are a common side effect of alcoholism. This not only complicates the situation for the individual but the family at large, as limited financial resources are would have to used to remedy such ailments.
Even when there has been professed cases of overcoming alcoholism, the damage done prior to attaining that victory is usually so extensive and severe that many lives (in particular that of the individual and family members) would never be the same. Lifelong relationships may have become permanently severed and the alcoholic, for the most part, would have been left completely despondent and dejected after the ordeal. It may seem unfair to many victims of alcoholics and family members where addictions have brought total chaos and destruction that those alcoholics need their total love and support. It is true, alcoholics need every bit of their love ones that could be offered when recovering from alcoholism and even more so while they are still being controlled by it. So whenever possible be patient and loving towards those who need you most; even when it seems like that most difficult thing to do.