Is your drinking tearing your family apart

Be honest: Is your drinking tearing your family apart?

One of the things I often said during my drinking years was “Who am I hurting?  If I am hurting anyone, it is only myself”.  Looking back now I can easily see that I did not want to see or admit that I was hurting anyone.  I did not want to as questions like Is your drinking tearing your family apart?  That might mean that I needed to do something about my drinking.

So, when was the last time you took a hard look at your drinking?   More to the point, when did you last look at the effects of your drinking on your family and loved ones?

Alcohol is a depressant drug; it slows the brain activity — dulling your perception and judgment. This means that it impairs your thinking and makes you less sensitive to the needs and wants of others.

Unfortunately, the more you drink, the more this happens, which is one reason why drinkers are often accused of being self-centred, insensitive, and having an alcohol addiction.

If you feel there’s a chance you drink too much and that your family is greatly impacted, then you need to examine your behaviour. This article provides a list of the signs that suggest your drinking may be having a detrimental effect on your nearest and dearest.

However, before we discuss the list, we need to say two things: be honest with yourself (it’s a waste of time otherwise), and second this is not an exhaustive list, so even if none of these signs apply, you could still be harming your family.

So, is your drinking tearing your family apart?  Ask yourself this list of questions to determine if your drinking is harming your family (and whether you have might an alcohol addiction).

Does your family complain that they do not have enough quality time with you? 

Do you spend much of your time at a bar or drinking with friends?  When you drop into the bar for a quick one, do you spend much more time than you intended?  Alternately, even if you’re a home drinker your family may still not get quality time that they want with you, particularly if you’re rarely sober.  Having a conversation with someone who is drinking is very different from one when they are sober.

Do you promise to do things or be places and fail to deliver? 

Drinkers are often unreliable. Their intentions are usually good.  When they promise to do something, be somewhere, not do something, they are usually genuine at the time.  Unfortunately, it’s just that alcohol often comes first, and the good intentions are forgotten.  Have you made promises that you have not kept because of drinking?

Have the number of visitors (to your home) decreased? 

Family members may be worried about inviting their friends to the house, as they’re afraid that you’ll be on a bender.  It is embarrassing to them if their friends see their mum, dad, husband or wife drunk.  However, they also love you and don’t want people thinking badly of you, that you are a drunk or an alcoholic.  So it is simpler just to stop inviting anyone.

Have the invitations to parties and friends’ houses also reduced?

Were you once involved with a group of friends that you seldom socialise with anymore?  Have people stopped inviting you to their home?  Do they have parties that you are no longer part of?  If this is the case, ask yourself why.  Did you tend to drink more than the others, want the party to continue when everyone else was happy to finish, say or do things when you were drinking that upset others?

Is your partner becoming increasingly socially isolated?

There can be, at least, two reasons why this is happening.  The first is what we discussed in the previous two signs, that the invitations just stop coming in or your family stops inviting people round.  However, the second reason is that friends and family members often give advice.  Sometimes that advice is unwelcome.  This is particularly true in the case of problem drinking as the advice is often leave her or kick him out.  When there is still love in the relationship the partner often withdraws from friends and family to avoid hearing the criticism of their drinker and the feeling that they are being judged for not solving the issue and/or ending the relationship.

Has your family’s health deteriorated? 

It is well recognised that the families of problem drinkers experience more emotional, psychological and physical problems.  The spouse has a higher than average incidence of anxiety and depression and tend to have higher rates of GP visits and hospitalisation.  The children of problem drinkers have higher rates of truancy, delinquency and substance abuse.

Is your partner taking medication for anxiety or depression? Has she lost weight or gained significant amounts of weight? Does he seem more stressed and less able to cope?  Are the children getting into trouble at school or with the authorities?  If so could this be related to your drinking?

Do your children try to avoid you?

A drinker’s children can try to avoid them for numerous reasons.  They can be afraid, especially if the drinker is aggressive and/or violent when they drink.  The child can feel angry about the situation but be aware of their powerlessness to change it.  Sometimes the child can feel responsible for the drinking and plead with the drinker to change.  When nothing happens, they then feel guilty about what they did or didn’t do.  Is your drinking affecting your relationship with your children?

Are your kids’ grades deteriorating?

The children of drinkers often under-achieve at school.  Because of the stress of the drinking they cannot concentrate on the school work or they just feel that, compared to the troubles at home, it is just unimportant.

Are your kids not realising their potential? Are they moody and reclusive?

How are your finances? 

Have your finances deteriorated along with the rest of your life?  Do you find that, despite earning a reasonable income, you are still broke long before payday?  Problem drinking is expensive to sustain and often takes priority if there is any spare cash.  In fact, it tends to take priority even when there is no spare cash.  Are you struggling financially?

Of course, drinkers can explain away all these signs with causes other than drinking. However, if some of the signs are present in your family life, then you should take an honest look at your drinking. Obviously the more of these signs that are present, the more likely that it is that drinking is the cause.

So, Is your drinking tearing your family apart

If you are concerned about your drinking you can get a quick assessment and feedback at The Smart Drinker’s Check Up or at the Assessment page of this website, both websites are free. If the family are affected they can get help and support at Bottled Up for Drinkers.

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