The Effects of Alcoholism on Children

How Alcohol Addiction Affects Children

Did you know that when someone is addicted to alcohol, it doesn’t only affect the alcoholic’s health and wellbeing but also the welfare of those closest to them? When it’s a parent suffering with alcoholism, it’s usually the children of the alcoholic that suffers the most. However, the effects that alcohol addiction has on a child often go under the radar, as it’s commonly thought that because they are young, they can easily recover from it. The reality however, is that the effects of alcohol addiction will stay with the child, right into their adulthood.

In this article, we’ll tell you how alcohol addiction affects children and also, what can be done to help.


The effects that alcoholism has on children can often be distinguished by age. For example, if the child is younger, they may become confused on how a healthy family environment is supposed to be and can lead to consequences such as feeling afraid, not being able to trust and will struggle to form relationships with other people. When the child is older, they may suffer confidence and self-esteem problems, depression and in some cases, feel responsible for their alcoholic parents drinking problem. Older children may also struggle at school or university due to the problems at home and may often find it increasingly difficult to concentrate and learn.


Physical abuse is one of the most common consequences related to alcohol addiction. In fact, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), “The U.S. Department of Justice found that 61% of domestic violence offenders also have substance abuse problems.” However, it’s not only the physical harm that plays a factor in how alcohol addiction affects a child of an alcoholic. Emotional abuse is a major consequence and can be very traumatic. Think about this for a second: Imagine livings in constant fear with no one to rely on and having to every day make excuses for your alcoholic parent’s behaviour.

All of this changes how a child grows up and experiences the world around them. Luckily, there is help available for children of alcoholics. There are various support groups that are able to assist them in the healing process. Alateen is an active organisation, dedicated to help young people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking. In Alateen meetings, the youth will come together to share their experiences and feelings with one another and will try to find solutions to any difficulties that a member might be experiencing. An adult with experience in the addiction field sits in on these meetings and will serve as a sponsor (someone who guides the meeting and provides helpful knowledge and insight).

If you are wondering if Alateen is for you, please answer these questions, taken off their website:

  1.  “Do you have a parent, close friend or relative whose drinking upsets you?
  2. Do you cover up your real feelings by pretending that you don’t care?
  3. Are holidays and gatherings spoiled because of drinking?
  4. Do you tell lies to cover up for someone else’s drinking or what’s happening in your home?
  5. Do you stay out of the house as much as possible because you hate it there?
  6. Are you afraid to upset someone or fear it will set off a drinking bout?
  7. Do you feel nobody really loves you or cares what happens to you?
  8. Are you afraid or embarrassed to bring your friends home?
  9. Do you think the drinker’s behaviour is caused by you, other members of your family, friends or rotten breaks in life?
  10. Do you make threats such as, “If you don’t stop drinking, fighting, I’ll run away?”
  11.   Do you make promises about behaviour, such as, “I’ll get better school marks, go to church or keep my room clean” in exchange for a promise that the fighting and drinking will stop?
  12. Do you feel that if your mom or dad loved you, he or she would stop drinking?
  13. Do you ever threaten or actually hurt yourself to scare your parents into saying “I’m sorry,” or “I love you”?
  14. Do you believe no one could possibly understand how you feel?
  15. Do you have money problems because of someone else’s drinking?
  16. Are mealtimes frequently delayed because of the drinker?
  17. Have you considered calling the police because of the drinker’s abusive behaviour?
  18. Have you refused dates out of fear or anxiety?
  19.   Do you think your problems would be solved if the drinking stopped?
  20. Do you ever treat people (teachers, schoolmates, team-mates, etc.) unjustly because you are angry at someone else for drinking too much?”

If you answered yes to any of the above, we urge you to seek Alateen help immediately.

Alcohol Addiction Help

If you are suffering from alcoholism or know of someone who is, then it’s important that you get help for them immediately. We provide access to the best private alcohol addiction treatment centres in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Thailand.

Call us now and let one of our qualified addiction counsellors find the best treatment to suit your individual needs.

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