If Mom Is an Alcoholic, Will I Follow Her Footsteps?
02/16/18: Alcohol AddictionAs women begin to band together (long time coming) to voice their outrage about unequal pay and sexual harassment in the workplace, feminists across the U.S. are gaining traction is the fight to level the playing field. But there is also another aspect of the men vs. women spat that shows females in the lead and it’s not an attractive quality. According to a news release published in January 2018, rates of chronic alcohol-misuse-related hospital emergency room intakes for women, over a 9-year period, increased by 6.9 percent annually. The study also broke down hospital visits by generation. After reading through the information from the National Institute of Health (NIH), I recall friends that I’ve had and still have who over-consume alcohol and know that their mothers do the same. My mother didn’t. But if she did, I would want to know if mom is an alcoholic, will I follow her footsteps, and if so, why? Let’s explore.
Children of Alcoholics Are 4 Times More Likely to Be AlcoholicsResearch continues to fine tune the connection between alcoholic abuse within families. There are many reasons why a person can develop alcoholism. However, if a parent has an alcohol use disorder his or her child can be predisposed to the disease due to genetics, family history, environment, and trauma. Here’s why.
- Genetics – There is science-based evidence to show physiological differences in the brain that can contribute to alcoholism, passed down from generation to generation.
- Family History – In addition to genetics, there are certain behavioral patterns that alcoholics exhibit which, by example, children will repeat.
- Environment – Children of alcoholics can tend to grow up believing that a normal lifestyle includes excessive drinking.
- Trauma – With the regular presence of alcohol consumption in a home, emotional, physical and sexual abuse can take place without the alcoholic being aware of the behavior but the child will remember and carry the scars for a lifetime.
If We Don’t Understand Alcoholism in Parents, We Subconsciously Repeat ItWhen an adult child of an alcoholic (ACoA) reflects on childhood, the memories can skew life perception in one of two ways: Repeat the behavior or rebel against it. Some children of alcoholics decide to never drink a drop while others fall head first into alcoholism. To intervene and increase the chance against generational alcoholism, education and counseling are crucial. But if your mother or father drinks and each serve as a role model to your future, how would you know any other option exists? With the increase in alcohol use disorder in women, the goal to positively improve the family dynamic must be first-place in households across America. This is not a statement made from the perspective of traditional familial views and that family wellness rests solely on women. The number of women who are heads of households far exceeds that of men, no bias, just fact. Considering that alcohol is readily available in brick and mortar stores, setting a strong behavioral model at home is integral in alcohol abuse prevention.
Mental Health Is at Risk with AlcoholismMore than 50 percent of people with reported alcohol use disorder also suffer from mental illness. Whether anxiety, depressive or bi-polar disorders developed after alcoholism or fueled drinking as a form of self-medication, the ACoA will experience additional repercussions. Adult Children of Alcoholics Have Increased Rates of:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Anti-Social Personality Defects
- Insecure Attachment Relationship Patterns
Stop Generational Alcoholism in Your FamilyMaybe your mother drank too much wine. Dad liked his whiskey with a beer chaser. And now, you vacillate between the two in your own day-to-day. If you want to stop or learn what you can do so your children won’t repeat the behaviors, take action. To begin the process of change in your household, use the following as preliminary steps:
- Curb your own drinking and don’t drink in front of the kids
- Do NOT allow underage drinking
- Talk about alcohol consumption with family members
- Get into family counseling
17 Million U.S. Adults Have Alcohol Use DisorderIf there is concern about your level of alcohol consumption or that of a family member, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 17 million adults in the United States have an alcohol use disorder and of them, 90 percent don’t get the help they need. To get a better idea of where you or someone else may fall in the spectrum of alcohol use disorder (mild, moderate or severe) a new online tool was launched this year called the Alcohol Treatment Navigator. The tool helps people understand what to look for in quality alcohol detox and treatment programs available, without private or commercial influences. With the onslaught of unscrupulous alcohol and drug rehab entities out there, this provides an added assurance that the resources listed are more reliable and follow addiction treatment and recovery standards.
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