Many Unaware of How Their Alcoholism Affects Others

Alcoholism Affects More Than Just the Drinker

Troubled Woman
A Fight Every Day?. © Getty Images

Many alcoholics have little realization of how their drinking affects others around them, including their immediate family members. They may truly believe that their drinking affects no one but themselves, but their spouses and their children can be profoundly affected by the experience of living with someone who is an alcoholic.

Michelle, a visitor to this website, shared her story of what it is like having two alcoholic parents, even though one is highly functional, while the other becomes totally out of control. Her story is published below.

Another Lie I Tell Myself

It's interesting to read other people's stories, and read about the common traits of those impacted by alcoholism and realize how much I identify with that. I never wanted to and have pretended my upbringing does not define me. Just another lie I tell myself I guess.

To agree with one of the traits, I struggle with the meaning of normal, and with that, the meaning of being an alcoholic and when it entered into my life growing up. I tell myself my parents were not bad when I was young, yet my earliest memories involve them being drunk.

Public Display of Intoxication

Unlike my friends, I do not have a lot of memories of supportive parents that were included in my life. They involve me being alone, or with my brother, or friends. They involve me never relaxing and remembering how mortifying it was to see my parent's public display of intoxication at what should have been kid parties.

So who knows, maybe my parents always had drinking problems. Perhaps it was not always as constant as it became when I was older, although I will say, the longer my parents, especially my father, drink - the worse it has become.

Both Parents Are Alcoholics

Both of my parents are alcoholics. My mother is the functioning one, while my father spirals out of control and can not function whatsoever while drinking.

It took me a long time to understand that a functioning alcoholic is still, well, an alcoholic.

My father will stop drinking for short periods of time - constantly on and off the wagon. When I was younger, I had hopes that his periods of sobriety were something that would continue. Now I understand this only happens when his body can not take anymore alcohol and he is too sick to drink. Not the same.

His Drinking Is Nonstop

His drinking is nonstop, he does nothing else and it's hard to watch the kind of damage it has on his body. He will only stop when he is so sick, he can keep nothing down (even vodka.) He refuses to talk about it or get help.

My mother refuses to acknowledge her drinking as part of the ongoing problem. She sees herself as a victim, also coming from an alcoholic home. She complains about the stresses of her husband and father but not once has she made any sort of connection that her own children would somehow be impacted.

It's almost laughable how selfish they both are - they have not once considered their children. Not out loud anyway. They look at it as their problem.

To Me, Acceptance Means Burying

I learned to survive on my own terms, mostly through friends that have a similar upbringing, and to accept my parents for who they are, versus joining their ever dysfunctional roller coaster.

I realize now that has come with a price.

Accepting has meant to me, in a lot of ways, burying. I am not sure I know the difference. I don't think about it too hard and I force acceptance because isn't that just easier? What's the alternative? Fighting every day, or no parents at all?

-- Michelle

Have you been affected by growing up in an alcoholic home? You may want to read the stories of others who had alcoholic parents or take the Adult Children of Alcoholics self-assessment quiz.

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