The effects of alcoholism on children

effects of alcoholism on childrenYou are probably well aware of the effects of your drinking on your life – hangovers, inability to concentrate, relationship problems, poor health, weight gain etc. However, if you are a parent, have you given enough consideration to the effects of alcoholism on your children?

Primarily of course, when you’ve had a drink you’re not interacting with them in a rational, responsible way, you may be inconsistent with how you were acting towards them earlier in the day, which can be very confusing.

You may be exposing them to arguments with your partner which they might otherwise not have to see. This is really just the tip of the iceberg of the variety of alcoholic behaviour your children might have witnessed on occasion.

One of the recognised effects of alcoholism on children is that they tend to find it difficult to trust others. They also often learn to suppress their feelings, because any expression of them can cause angry outbursts from the drunken parent.

Beyond that though, they’re learning that drinking alcohol is a normal, regular thing to do. They’re learning that it’s something you do to relax if you’re upset, or tired. Eventually the most likely effect is that your children repeat your pattern of alcohol use themselves.

Before that though, your own health might deteriorate sufficiently that you’re admitted to hospital, or you end up there due to an accident. And nobody wants to think about how horrific it would be to injure your children (or worse) from driving whilst drunk. Have you ever done it?

Alcoholism doesn’t just affect you, it’s affecting those around you too, your children probably more than any other.


  1. Perri 17 April, 2014 at 4:22 am - Reply

    I say to any one living with a alcoholic .. Get out now.. Take your children as far away as you can.. They will use your children to hurt you.. And also hurt your children.. They r sick.. You can not help them.. Just help yourself.. Alcoholics suck u into the drama.. And they will suck the life out of you… And your children.. You need to understand they do not love you they just need you.. Not healthy for anyone.. Just sayin

  2. Perri 17 April, 2014 at 4:05 am - Reply

    I divorced and alcoholic .. Our son was 14. He is now 21. His father has made our lives a nightmare , my son is now living with him after graduating high school.. Why he went back idk.. His father has hurt him mentally and physically my x Would not leave him alone .. When he was with me.. I often try to understand why. My x is a medical professional ….Still working..but I do not think for much longer… He has been in treatment twice.. I did every thing I could to protect our son. Left when he started becoming verbally abusive ..I know he is still abusive to our son, because my son tells me…but says… No worries mom I can handle him.. I know it is affecting my son but I can not get him to leave, he knows he can live with me.. I do not know why he stays… My heart is broken .. Our son does not drink or use drugs.. He does work and go to college.. But is now dropping out .. He seems so depressed, spends all his free time at home no friends… This man is going down and taking our son with him.. I worry so much .. How can I help our son understand the effects it is having on him… Is it the money fear what.???. I have no pity for alcoholics.. I did everything I possibly could… Waisted 27yrs of my life.. Now. I have to see my son do the same.. My son is the love of my life.. How can I help.. A worried mom

  3. Kailee 25 September, 2013 at 2:24 am - Reply


    I am a daughter of an alcoholic and my fathers drinking has left me with emotional scars that no matter how hard I try they will never go away. My dad never go physically violent with me but he did yell at me a lot when he was drinking. When I was little I always thought that I was never good enough for him but as I grew up I learned that he was not good enough for me. I’m not saying that you should just up and leave your family but I did up and leave after a huge argument that we got into and he told me to leave and never come back because he did not want children. To this day I do not understand why he said that but without the emotional abuse I have been a lot happier and I think that I have gotten a lot farther in life without him there than what I would have with him. I will admit that I hold my feelings back because he used to coll me a cry baby after screaming at me. I have trust issues and I have trouble meeting new people. I believe that with my father being an alcoholic I learned to be that way, I don’t believe that I was born to not trust people or to hold in my feelings. So yes Alcoholism does affect children even if it does not show right away.

    • Jaydee 1 January, 2014 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      I no wat u talkin father is an alcoholic.he use2 hit my my mada n occasionaly hit me if i tryd 2stop him.he affected me in grany would cum2 my school and tel me my father died.he would work at my school n steal the school stuff.i left school in grade6.i now got a boyfriend n 2kidz n my boyfriend is also an alcoholic.he treats me the way my father treated my mother uptill 2day my lyf has been nothing but misary

  4. cammeag 26 February, 2013 at 12:59 am - Reply

    I am an alcoholic. My father was not, my mother certainly wasn’t…so who do I blame. I was the last of my friends to drink, take drugs or have sex, yet consider the stuation i am now in worse than any of them still alive.

    Sure drinking effects children. But no more so than selfishness, promiscuity, materialistic parents and i can go on quite extensively.

    I am an alcoholic. The only human who can stop me beng one is myself…i have read many self help books…most are written, not for altruistic reasons, but for self gratification or personal gain (financially or academically).

    You want to help alcoholics? Do not try to shame them with their children, spouses, extended family, let-downs ets…..NO….give them a hope, a reason to be sober that is not spurred on by gult, otherwise relapse will inevitably follow.


    • Tobin Hunt 27 February, 2013 at 7:27 am - Reply

      This is certainly not an attempt to shame people – where is that word used in the article? This is more a way of building motivation to change – quite often people with alcohol problems will minimise or deny the extent of the consequences, thus preventing them from getting motivated to do something different. Just being honest about some of the effects of your drinking (unpleasant as they are) can tip you into action.

  5. rachna 1 October, 2011 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Luckily I do not have alcoholics in family, but being a physician I have closely witnessed the people traumatised by intake of alcohol by themselves or family members. The best advise for the lady you mention is that she should accept things as they are part of life. Secondly she should keep herself busy with creative activities to keep off her depression and feeling of insecurity(all her signs are manifestation of insecurity). She can reach out to people with similar predicament and try to help them with counseling. This will improve her self confidence and make her a more warm and friendly person

  6. Pen Gorringe 28 March, 2011 at 5:46 am - Reply

    I met a girl who is the daughter of an alcoholic. She has a history of broken relationships, is overweight, listens to very loud music, has an obsession with being tidy, is very jealous, has low self esteem, has a tendency to be selfish, will put the phone down if she can’t get her own way, keeps secrets and has trouble solving her problems. She is now in her forties. What can she do to bring some normality into her life?

  7. emma 16 April, 2009 at 8:57 am - Reply

    my father was an alcoholic and very volatile he died of liver cancer , i ended up marrying and hence divorcing someone on grounds of his alcohol dependancy ( married 13 years ) i openly admit that i am a very affected and nervous person ( i hide it well and have a high profile job as a bank manager ) , i am now determined to protect the cycle of my children marrying someone that has addictions . My new partner is the first strong male influence I have ever known it is a huge eye opener into normal life , I STRONGLY ADVISE that for your own sanity ( i ended up very depressed ) you leave , they can never change and are very manipulative people , they are very selfish people , yes its an illness but they can stop if they truely want too .

  8. Lindsey 24 March, 2009 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    well… what most people don’t know is that alcoholism is a disease that can be passed down to their children. It is triggered on the dopamine gene. I am 17 and doing a report on alcoholism. Thats why i know this. If anyone has any info for me it would be highly appreciated!!!
    email me at Lindsey_1010 at hotmail dot com


  9. Kate 18 February, 2009 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    You might want to check out the SAMASHA web site and there are some great books here is a list of the ones that I have read and use at the treatment center I work for.
    Teens under the influence: the truth about Kids, Alcohol,and other drugs- how to recognize the problem and what to do about it.
    Manual of Adolescent substance abuse treatment.
    the other good one is : the alcoholic family in recovery.

    Hope that helps.

  10. troy 9 January, 2008 at 4:01 am - Reply

    Do you think that alanon is appropreate for children of the ages 5 and 7

  11. Amelia 2 August, 2007 at 9:11 am - Reply


    There is an organisation called alateen which is a group for teenagers that have been effected by alcoholism! My father is an alcoholic and i attended alateen meetings for many years and found it of great help. In alateen though, you are with people your own age whom you can relate to! I always felt like the odd one out, but when I started in alateen i realised there are so many people in the same situation and that I have nothing to be ashamed of. There is also an organisation called alanon which is for people over the age of 20!
    I hope this has helped a little bit


  12. Jacquie Lynch 18 July, 2007 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Could you please signpost me to information on alcohol use in children and young people. I deliver parenting courses to the parents of young offenders and am having great difficulty in accessing information I can pass onto them regarding the effects of alcohol on their child or young person which I could then incorporate in our programme together with signposting to organisations who could help

    Thank you

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