The abuse of alcohol, whether you are drinking the substance or a child is drinking alcohol, can impact the entire family. In the case of children and teenagers, drinking alcohol can cause complications in a brain that is still developing, explains the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. When alcohol is abused by adults, the effects on children can still be dramatic and potentially dangerous.

When Children Drink

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, the human brain does not develop all at one time. An adolescent teenager or young adult is still growing and developing. The brain is not fully developed until a young adult is roughly 20 to 21 years old. By drinking alcohol while the brain is still developing, it can impact an individual’s emotional responses, hormones and general thought processes, explains SAMHSA.

When children or teenagers drink alcohol, there is a higher risk of accidents and a greater risk being a victim of a crime, says the National Institutes on Health. Parents can make a difference in the risk of drinking by discussing the problem openly and explaining the risks before a teenager or child begins using alcohol.

Impact of Parent Alcohol Abuse

When a parent abuses alcohol, there is still an impact on the entire family. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy explains that roughly 26.8 million children are exposed to alcohol abuse each year. Parents or other family members abuse the substance and cause complications in the lives of their entire family.

The potential effects of alcohol abuse on the entire family include:

  • Arguments
  • Children who are afraid of their parents
  • Instable home environments
  • High risk of children who develop mental health disorders
  • Tension in the family
  • Financial challenges
  • Neglect that can impact young children
  • Feelings of causing the problem

When a parent drinks alcohol in excess, it can have a negative impact on the entire dynamic of the family. According to the Chicago Tribune, children may feel frightened of their parents or may become the victims of domestic violence and traumatic experiences. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy says that children may even feel that they are the cause of a parent’s decision to drink in excess.

Adults who abuse alcohol can increase the risk of several complications, particularly if the children are very young when the abuse occurs. Children may not fully understand the behavior of their parents or family members, so they can feel frightened, confused or ashamed.

Impact of Alcohol Abuse on Health

Regardless of the individual who is abusing alcohol, there are risks that can arise in relation to the use of the substance. Alcohol abuse can increase the risk of certain health effects and complications. Furthermore, it may also contribute to the development of mental health disorders in the individual who is abusing the substance and any family members who live in the same home.

The effects of alcohol on physical health include:

  • Risk of damaged internal organs
  • Risk of brain damage or slow brain development in teenagers and children
  • Potential for accidents
  • Potential for risky behaviors
  • Risk of alcohol poisoning

Alcohol can impact the lives of every member of a family, even if a teenager is not the individual who is abusing the substance.

When a parent abuses alcohol, it can cause chaos and turmoil within the family unit. If a child abuses alcohol, then it may be time to seek professional assistance and care. Alcohol abuse impacts the entire family and children can become the victims if the problem is allowed to persist.