For many people, drinking alcohol is a pleasing way to relax after a tiring and demanding day. However, drinking a glass of wine to relax is another than drinking to excess, which endangers both the individuals that drink and others, as well. According to facts from the National institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one in twelve adults is an alcoholic or alcohol abuser, in the US alone. Binge drinking is typical in the 40 percent of US adults between 18 and 25 years old, making them more susceptible to alcohol problems (National institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).
Alcohol abuse, which can be the result of a variety of reasons, is a drinking pattern that leads to serious consequences. People with alcoholism do not have any control of their alcohol intake. Consequently, they have no control of their actions after they get intoxicated or are in a great need for alcohol and cannot find available. It is a one-way road for alcohol-dependents, once they start drinking, and they cause substantial damage not only to themselves, but their families, close social circle and the entire community where they live. Their actions include abuse of any kind: verbal, emotional, physical, domestic violence, and sex abuse, which will all be further discussed.
Verbal and Emotional Abuse
According to Robert Ackerman, PhD, and author of ten books related to alcohol, there are many types of alcoholics, one of which is the belligerent one that lives with the family (Ackerman, n.d). Those people are usually aggressive and verbally abusive. They are never happy about anything and always looking for an argument, spoiling the harmony in the family environment (264). Those living with him or interacting with him on a personal level are exposed to increased verbal abuse. However, being verbally abused penetrates the recipient’s soul. The verbally abused is also emotionally abused since their feelings are hurt and find it hard to fight back and continue the argument. Of course, if there are children in the family, they can also be verbally and emotionally abused by the alcoholic parent, with devastating effects on their mental and emotional development.
Physical Abuse and Domestic Violence
With alcoholic people, one leads to another, and it will not be long until they turn their home into a place where domestic violence occurs, given that alcoholics do not control their temper, emotions, and use of alcohol, among others. Statistics reveal a sad truth. A man with an alcoholic wife is nine times more likely to divorce his wife when nine in ten women stay with their alcoholic spouse, for a wide array of reasons, including societal norms that have been passed on from generation to generation (Kinney, 2000). They get physically abused, yet refuse to divorce. Abusers do rely on alcohol as an excuse to express their violent nature. In fact, alcohol justifies their abusive behaviour (Bennett, 1997). However, it is not alcohol that makes them violent, but other underlying reasons. Abusers who drink alcohol use domestic violence as a means to control others and exert power over them (Bennett, 1997).
Studies have determined that children whose parents have a history of alcohol abuse have higher potentials to be physically abused, compared to children of families where no parent had any drinking disorder (Ammerman et.al, 1999).
However, alcohol-dependent people do not only physically abuse their family members and perhaps close encounters; they physically abuse themselves by excess drinking, with all known problems of the human body, led by too much alcohol intake on a regular basis (e.g. cardiac conditions, kidney problems, behavioural, etc.).
Children, mostly girls, of families with an alcoholic parent run an increased risk of becoming not only physically, but also sexually abused (Coulton, 1999). Studies have shown that victims of sexual abuse have been abused either by a member of their family with drinking problems, or by a stranger, which indicates a rather worrying fact: parental alcoholism may make the children more susceptible to sexual abuse by complete strangers (Coulton, 1999).
Based on conservative estimates, about a fourth of the women living in the US have been sexually abused, either during their adolescence or later on in their lives. At least half of them had been sexually abused, and experienced rape or attempted rape, by men that had consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, or when they themselves had been drinking much more than normal (Collins and Messerschmidt 1993).
Alcohol use can easily turn from a relaxing leisure to a serious condition if not controlled. Alcohol-dependent individuals usually have no control whatsoever of their alcohol use and behavior that many times leads to violent outburst. Verbal and emotional abuse are the silent side effects of an alcoholic’s abusive behavior since they are usually not reported, so evidence and statistics are yet unclear. However, what is evidenced is the fact that alcohol-dependent people use domestic violence to prevail over the rest of the family members and justify their need for power and control. Perhaps because they may feel they have either of both. Child abuse is a serious factor to consider when discussing the effects of alcohol on other people. Statistics and studies reveal that children from families with at least an alcoholic parent run an elevated risk of sexual and physical abuse. Finally, women more than men stay in their marriage where the spouse has alcohol disorders. The reasons an individual turns to alcohol are many; just as many are the problems deriving from excess alcohol use, for both the user, family and community.
Ackerman, Robert (n.d), Alcoholism and the Family. National Association for Children of Alcoholics. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2014 from: http://www.nacoa.org/pdfs/ackerman.pdf
Ammerman, R.T.; Kolko, D.J.; Kirisci, L.; Blackson, T.C.; And Dawes, M.A (1999), Child Abuse Potential In parents with histories of substance use disorder. Child Abuse & Neglect 23(12):1225- 1238, 1999.
Bennett, Larry (1997), ALCOHOL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. University of Minnesota, Human Rights Library. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2014 from: http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/svaw/domestic/link/alcohol.htm
Collins, J.J., And Messerschmidt, P.M (1993), Epidemiology of alcohol-related violence. Alcohol Health & Research World 17:93 100, 1993.
Coulton, C (1999), Neighborhoods and child maltreatment: A multi-level study. Child Abuse & Neglect 23(11):1019-1040, 1999.
Kinney, Jean (2000), Loosening The Grip, sixth edition. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY 2000.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2007), FAQs for the general public. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2014 from: http://www.compdrug.org/alcoholismfaq.htm