Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
January 16, 2019

How Alcoholism Affects the Family


Alcoholism is an addiction that not only affects the user’s life, but also their family, friends, and other relationships. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), around sixteen million people in the United States struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD). That means that over sixteen million families and relationships are affected as a result of alcoholism. When analyzing alcoholism, it’s common to look at how the user’s life is affected by their addiction, but it is also important to understand how alcoholism affects the family. Alcohol addiction can have a significant impact on many aspects of a family’s life, including their financial stability, marital relationship, children, and social connections. If you are seeking help for a loved one stuggling with alcohol addiction or considering alcohol rehab, this article is for you.

The Ways Alcoholism Affects the Family

Alcoholism is a complex and pervasive addiction that can affect every aspect of a user’s life. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) outlines a number of signs of alcoholism that examine how alcoholism affects the family members, colleagues, employers, and other close relationships of the user. Below are a handful of ways in which alcoholism affects the family of the user.

Neglecting Activities That Were Once Important

As a user is consumed with their addiction to alcohol, sometimes they can stop taking part in activities that were once important to them, such as spending time with friends and family. Instead of their focus remaining on these activities, it becomes consumed by their addiction. This can be very difficult for the friends and family of the user as they may see their loved one slipping away from them and deeper into their addiction.

The Strain on Financial Stability

Alcohol is not free and for a user to continue to fund their addiction, they will need to tap into their finances. In addition, once the user is intoxicated and their judgment compromised, they may engage in behaviors or make decisions that further compromise their family’s financial stability and well-being. This can be a range of behaviors, such as impulsively buying something they can’t afford when intoxicated or getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) which carries both legal and financial consequences. Another potential way in which alcohol can compromise financial stability is if the user is unable to perform adequately at work, which could lead to the loss of employment and wages. All of these scenarios can have a profound effect on the user’s family, leaving them to pick up the pieces of the financial instability the user has caused. This is when learning how to deal with an addict becomes increasingly more challenging for loved ones and family members.

Marital Troubles

If the user is a spouse, alcohol abuse can have a significant impact on marriage and relationship. Their spouse will be intimately aware of their addiction and will likely bear the result of their consequences, decisions, and behaviors. According to the law, spouses are often seen as one financial entity, which can make the spouse of the user culpable for their financial consequences. In addition to this financial impact, there can be a strain on the relationship due to alcohol abuse. Below are a handful of common problems that arise between spouses when one partner abuses alcohol according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

  • Divorce
  • Jealousy
  • Infidelity
  • Domestic violence
  • Marital conflict
  • Financial instability
  • Stress
  • Unplanned pregnancy

This can be an extremely challenging situation for a spouse to be placed in and can have a significant impact on their life and well-being. In some cases where one partner abuses alcohol, their spouse can become codependent and feel responsible for caring for them and subsequently enabling an addiction.

The Impact on Children

Children of alcohol users and children that are extended family members of users can become significantly impacted by their loved one’s addiction. Children are dependent on the adults in their lives for routines, such as mealtimes and bedtimes, care, love, and good examples of behavior. When a parent is has a drinking problem, these routines can become disrupted, which can confuse children and lead to further issues down the road.

Children may also witness their parent’s or alcoholic family member’s mood change quickly and attribute the behavior to something they are doing, which can lead to them exhibiting emotions of guilt, frustration, and anger. As their parent’s alcohol abuse affects their life, they may begin to act differently in school and in their social life as a result. Below are a number of ways in which children may respond to alcohol abuse in their home.

  • Develop depression
  • Abuse alcohol and/or other drugs
  • Develop physical illnesses
  • Fail classes in school
  • Be unable to make or bond with friends
  • Steal
  • Become violent and/or aggressive
  • Exhibit risk behaviors
  • Become truant

These are just a few potential outcomes that may result from children living in a home with a user abusing alcohol.

Alcoholism does not just affect the user, but everyone in their lives as well.

For more about alcoholism and alcohol treatment, check out these related articles:


  1. “How Are Friends & Family Affected by the Actions of an Alcoholic Loved-One?” Retrieved from
  2. Alcohol.Org, An American Addiction Centers Resource. “Stop Drinking Alcohol & Get Help.” Retrieved from
  3. American Addiction Centers. “Alcoholism and Family/Marital Problems.” Retrieved from
  4. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. “Signs and Symptoms.” Retrieved from