Around 10 percent of people in the U.S. are believed to suffer from alcoholism over the course of their lifetime and thousands will die – even though alcoholism itself is not often listed as the cause of death. According to some studies, a child who grows up with parents who are alcoholics has an 80 percent likelihood of becoming an alcoholic themselves.
For children who grow up in an alcoholic household, several long-term consequences are noted. Some may end up with spouses who are alcoholics – an effort to recreate a home environment to which they are comfortable, even if it is painful. If they become alcoholics as adults, these children are also likely to perpetuate the family cycle, and are more likely to see their own children suffer from alcoholism.
Children of alcohol-dependent parents run a higher risk of developing an alcohol problem than other children. This has to do with three factors: heredity, influence of the environment and habits.
Stopping family cycles of alcohol addiction can be done, but it is a very challenging process involving serious change, such as a spouse leaving the spouse who suffers from alcohol addiction. Members of the family from outside this immediate unit may shun the spouse for leaving, or in other cases, ignore their requests for help in order to try to maintain a sense of family balance.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent psychiatry, 20 percent (or one out of five adults) in the U.S. share their household with someone addicted to alcohol during their childhood. The study of alcoholism as a family disease is prompting more research into intervention toward the lifelong emotional effects of alcoholism, as well as ways to use genetic technology to locate the genes responsible for the likelihood toward alcohol addiction.
If successful, this type of research could open doors toward new ways to both treat people and help prevent alcoholism in families before it occurs – advancement that could occur alongside treatments like counseling and family-centered strategies.