Clinical research and practice have shown that alcoholism and drug abuse have profound negative effects on family life. Alcohol misuse, in particular, can greatly contribute to discord between married couples as well as between the rest of the members of a family. It has been shown to increase verbal and physical abuse, inadequate parenting, and sexual inadequacy on the part of the addictedfamily member. In addition to this, alcoholism and other related forms of substance abuse make it increasingly difficult to sustain a certain level of job performance, let alone maintain a job. The effects of alcoholism on children have been shown to be equally detrimental. The home environments of children with an alcoholic parent have more parent-child conflict and child abuse, negatively impactingthe children behaviorally, emotionally and psychologically. There is also a greater likelihood of separation and divorce in marriages that have an alcoholic partner compared to marriages that do not (Rotunda, 1995, p. 95).
There is empirical evidence in the field indicating that families with an alcoholic parent perceive their family to be less cohesive and communicative. They also perceive thatthey have a higher amount of conflict than families without an alcoholic parent. Studies have supported this perception. In measuring the ability of a family to maintain an organized system, families with an alcoholic parent have lower ratings than normally functioning families (Rotunda, 1995, p. 95). According to Jackson (1954), the disintegration of a family due to alcohol misuse is similar tothe disintegration of a family coping with intense or chronic stress. The families try to deny and hide the alcoholism at first, however when this fails, they become disorganized, and resentments between members start to surface. At this point, the rest of the family will often try to reorganize itself, leaving out the alcoholic member. For this reason, it is often common to see the nonalcoholicpartner take on some of the roles customarily performed by the alcoholic partner. This can lead to frustration and exhaustion on the part of the nonalcoholic spouse and in later stages, if the spouse continues to have to overcompensate for the abdicated responsibilities of the alcoholic, marital dissatisfaction, hopelessness, loss of intimacy, and often divorce will result (Jackson, 1954). In mylife, I have watched as the detrimental effects of addiction have led to the complete disintegration of my uncle’s immediate family, leading me to further realize that the impacts of alcoholism are real, and cannot be ignored.
When my Uncle Jim met the woman who would later become his wife, Diane, neither of them had any idea of the hardships they would endure in their future. Jim is my dad’syoungest brother, making him the baby of their family. When he met Diane, he was fairly young, still attending college close to his childhood home in Long Island, New York. Diane was from a neighboring town in Long Island. They were around the same age when they met, about 20-years-old; however their lives were on slightly different paths, as Diane was not in college, unlike Jim, and she had no plansof ever going. They met one night at a party. Diane was beautiful. She caught Jim’s eye right away. She was talkative and fun, always looking for a good time. Having been a shy child for most of his life, Jim loved how she was able to open him up, and they started dating almost immediately after they met that night. He was happier than he had been in a long time. Jim and my father’s dad had diedwhen Jim was very young, about 13-years-old, and this event had defined much of his adolescence. With Diane, however, he felt like he had the chance to start over.
From the beginning, their relationship consisted mostly of going out to fancy bars and restaurants, to concerts and shows. Diane was always looking for a good time, and Jim was happy to constantly be out on the town with her. They...
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