Alcoholism runs in families whether you know it or not.

Alcohol is drunk by one person. The effects of it affect just about every friend, relative, employer, and teacher. That’s why they call it an “alcoholic family.” So, do you think that alcoholism runs in families? Whether you know it or not? Choose a couple of your friends and chances are that someone misuses alcohol. Here are five ways to know if a family member is misusing alcohol.

  1. Sudden changes in behavior. Just about everyone has a lot of habits in daily living. When a person suddenly deviates from their habits, there usually is a reason. People change their behavior. That’s not news. It’s a sudden change with no explanation that should send alarm bells. Key words are “sudden change in behavior without explanation.”
  2. Evidence of alcohol use. Bottles, cans, and other used containers.  Yes, it seems strange that an alcoholic would leave containers lying around but it happens. It’s only when a person is asked to stop their use that secretive behaviors begin.
  3. Unexplained problems with friends, relatives, and employers. Problems due to alcohol use are in the definition of alcoholism. Family members being affected is part of the definition.

Self-help organizations such as AA are a great way to start the long path to sobriety.  Not surprisingly, self-help organizations are only as good as their members.  Each person needs a unique recovery program.  It may take a while to find the right group.  For families, there is an associated self-help group:  Alanon.  This group is for the families of alcoholics.  In these groups, there is a lot of discussion of “co-dependency.”

With co-dependency, family members (or anyone else) support an addict despite the negative effects that it has on them.  As time goes on, family members’ willingness to help continues but the negative effects worsen.  Chronic, unceasing support for an unchanging addict eventually will wear down even the most steadfast person.  Towards there is only bitterness and anger.