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How is family affected by drinking?

answered 02:18 PM EST, Mon July 30, 2012
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anonymous anonymous
How old do kids have to be before they start to understand what they are seeing in regards to drinking in the household. My children are only just 3 and 6 months so I don't think they understand their father's drinking yet but I want it to stop before they are old enough to understand it. He has a drinking problem in my opinion and soon he is going to need to choose between getting drunk and living in the same house as his family.

Jill Edwards Says...

I hear your concerns for your children. I also hear that you yourself are finding it unpleasant to live in the house with your husband's drinking. I think the state of tension between the two of you which exists because of the distress caused by his drinking is something that children of even the youngest age will be aware of. So in that sense, I think that this is a distraction, from the more important one which is how to support your husband in becoming aware that his drinking is causing problems for his family and that this is something he needs to deal with. If you make the children the issue around his leaving or not, that can be very damaging for the children, who very often end up blaming themselves when one of the parents leaves.

You do not tell me how much you and your husband have discussed his behaviour or how near he is to understanding his position. It may be useful to keep a diary of the effects of his drinking on family life. It may be useful to be encouraging when he is sober. You may actually find it very useful to get support through Al-Anon, they are an organisation that helps partners come to an effective response to someone in the family who is causing harm to themselves and others through drinking. These actions will help your husband to see that you take this issue seriously. They will also give you support if you have to ask him to leave.

I dont know from your question, whether there is a risk of violence during bouts of drinking. If that is the case then you clearly want to get yourself out of harms way, but also to do this safely. Contact one of the Domestic Violence Teams if necessary.

In the mean time, look on the internet and get as much information as you can about alcohol addiction, learn to understand that it can be unsafe to stop drinking suddenly if you have been drinking high amounts regularly. You could encourage your husband to get a check up with his doctor, to get his liver function checked over  and to discuss whether he would need medical assistance in stopping drinking. He might like to talk his situation over with a more independant advisor from one of the alcohol agencies, who will be able with him to see what his problem is.

Again, I do not know what your current relationship is, but it will be useful for him to have support from yourself, as you learn to know that it is the addiction that is the problem, not him, but the kind of support you can give needs to be knowledgeable about the reality of alcohol addiction and how it can be helped.

I have felt I was working a little in the dark answering you, I hope that what I have suggested is helpful to you, but without more knowledge it is difficult to advise in a situation where so much more than alcohol is at stake.

If you would like to call me on 07948354827 (in the UK) or e-mail me on mrsjilledwards@gmail.com, I would be happy to talk to you.

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Page last updated Jul 31, 2012

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