Alcoholism: A Family Affair Essay

940 words - 4 pages

Growing up is a mandatory part of life. There are situations and circumstances that shape one’s future and impact one’s life. These events can be either positive or negative. One event that has a negative impact on a person’s life is alcoholism. It changes the very essence of the family. When one parent in a family is an alcoholic, counseling for the entire family is necessary because it provides understanding of the disease process, acceptance of the need for help, a chance to express emotions, and unification of the family. Overall, it focuses on putting the family back together as a unit.
Before the family can begin to come together, it is important to understand what is tearing it apart. Doing this means understanding alcoholism and what it entails. “The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines alcohol abuse as ‘a maladaptive drinking pattern that repeatedly causes life problems’” (Herrick & Herrick, 2007, p. 47). Herrick and Herrick (2007), later distinguishes between two types of alcoholics: Type I, which develops later in life, stress related, psychologically dependent and brought on by one’s environment and Type II, which is likely inherited and occurs early on in life, for self-gratification and associated with criminal behavior.
In addition to the above mentioned consequences of alcoholism, it can also have a devastating effect on the body. Herrick and Herrick (2007) states alcohol can affect the breathing, digestive, heart and circulatory, immune, urinary, genital, metabolism, and nervous systems. There is also the risk of “reduced inhibitions, legal problems, and various risky behaviors” and “greater levels of physical and verbal violence” (Cunion, Noble and Ripley, 2006, p. 172).
In these types of cases, the need for change is great. Change can only come about if the person first recognizes that there is a problem and a need for help. In essence, the substance abuser must realize that their continued overuse of alcohol is directly related to “the family's progression along a continuum from stability to a loss of control over events relevant to the family, employment, child care, and general family functioning” (Van Wormer, 2008, p. 203). The level of help or counseling that is received is dependent upon the effects of the alcoholism. For families that have undergone domestic violence or physical abuse, then behavior’s couple therapy (BCT) may be an appropriate first step. According to Cunion, Noble and Ripley (2006), “the goals of BCT are to facilitate motivation to change drinking behaviors, to enhance self-efficacy for both the alcoholic mate and their spouse regarding their ability to change maladaptive behaviors, to increase positive reinforcement for abstinence, and to teach new cognitive and behavioral coping skills in the maintenance of treatment gains” (p. 177). Add to this therapy, the Alcohol Behavioral Couples Therapy (ABCT) approach, in which the spouse participates in all levels...

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