Alcohol abuse statistics tell us that while 95% of adults experiment with alcohol, only 15% of those actually abuse alcohol. For those that do abuse alcohol, however, the alcohol abuse effects are far reaching. Alcohol abuse certainly affects the alcoholic and the immediate family, but also the extended family and the community at large. We’ll look at all of that here.
Alcohol abuse statistics tell us that the impact on families of alcoholics is great. There is often a lot of secrecy and shame around the issue of alcoholism. There is also a lot of denial about the problem. Family members will work to protect the alcoholic and keep up this wall of secrecy and denial.
Alcoholics tend to withdraw from family members, who may express concern about their drinking. They may lie about the amount they are drinking, or try to hide their drinking. There may be frequent arguments about their drinking.
The alcohol abuse effects are particularly hard on children. Alcohol abuse statistics tell us that children of alcoholic parents suffer from feelings of guilt, anxiety, embarrassment, confusion, anger, and depression. They have difficulty forming close relationships, problems in school, delinquent behavior, and low self-esteem. They are also likely to experiment with alcohol and drugs at an early age.
While the extended family could be a wonderful resource for families coping with an addicted family member and the stresses that entails, that often does not happen. Instead, one of the alcohol abuse effects is that the alcoholic and the immediate family often withdraw from the extended family in order to keep the problem a secret.
The alcoholic also withdraws from extended family and friends because they are too busy drinking to have time to do anything else. They plan their leisure time around drinking and forgo family functions in favor of going out with drinking buddies.
The workplace suffers from alcohol abuse effects. Alcohol abusers miss work due to their drinking and often struggle with performance problems when they do make it to work. Their coworkers have to pick up the slack.
Schools also have to cope with the effects of alcohol abuse. Three-fourths of all high school seniors report that they have been drunk at least once. Students with alcohol problems struggle with poor academic performance, but also demonstrate behavioral problems.
Alcohol abuse also has a great financial impact on the community. Alcohol abuse statistics show that alcoholism costs the U.S. about $60 billion each year. This includes costs due to health problems, traffic accidents, and social programs that respond to alcohol-related problems. These costs are borne by the community as a whole.
The community often does a poor job of responding to alcohol abuse effects. That’s at least in part because of a lack of understanding about the disease. Many people view alcoholism as a personal failure, not an illness. There is much stigma attached to alcoholism. For this reason, some alcoholics and their family members may be reluctant to seek help.
We can use alcohol abuse statistics to create effective, responsive treatment programs. Effective programs must include family components, and must address the unique needs of children in the family. Programs must also address the social issues caused by alcohol abuse, helping to reunite the alcoholic with extended family and friends or to create a new extended social network that includes supportive, non-drinking friends. Finally, responsive programs need to look at how the community can respond to the problem of alcohol abuse. Employee assistance programs, school guidance counselors, and community social service organizations can all help to deal with the problem.