Binge drinking and the effects of alcoholism on the family

The effects of alcoholism on the family can seem obvious. So what should you do if you are the spouse or child of a binge drinker? More here.

minute read

If you are a child of a binge drinker, can you relate to this?

Life sucks.

I hate my life. I wish I were dead. I hate my mom/dad and I wish they were dead. Why does my parent act like that? My friend’s parents doesn’t’ act like mine. My mom/dad cares more about drinking than s/he does about me.

Nothing works.

I try to help. I look for stashed bottles and throw them away. I beg them not to drink anymore, and they always promise that s/he will never drink again. They tell me they love me, but how can they love me when they treats us like they do? I will never forget the time when I heard mom tell him to choose drinking or the family. He got angry and said I choose drinking.

Will this ever change?

I don’t get it. Most of the time they blame other people for drinking. S/He says if other people would treat him better, s/he wouldn’t have to drink. I’ve cried all night so many times, I just don’t cry anymore. Why doesn’t mom take us away from him? Why doesn’t dad take us away from her? Maybe I need to do something different to help my parent stop, or maybe s/he hates us all and is miserable because of us. What can I do?

If you are a spouse of a binge drinker, can you relate to this?

I’m so tired.

of worrying, tired of caring, tired of listening, tired of the lies, tired of the excuses, tired of the promises. Why doesn’t s/he just stop? S/He’s been to treatment twice. S/He’s gone to meetings forever (AA). I don’t think I can do this anymore. I have threatened him so many times that I will leave. Nothing seems to work.

I don’t get it.

Doesn’t they what they are doing to the family? I’m convinced he doesn’t really cares. If he did, he would stop. His daughters avoid him. His son hates him. We can never depend on him coming through.

Family life suffers.

As a family, we’re so messed up, I can’t see how we will ever survive this. Just when I think s/he is finally over the binges, s/he disappears for days. Sometimes we have no idea if s/he is dead or alive. Then he comes home and gives us the news. He got fired from his job, because he didn’t call in during his binging.

Then it all starts over again.

He looks for another job. We avoid answering the phone, because it might be creditors calling. We get kicked out of our rental. I call my parents to borrow money and we get deeper and deeper in debt. Everyone’s afraid to say anything.

Some days, I just want to give up.

I would love to have a normal, uneventful life. I am so embarrassed, I avoid trying to have friends. The kids never bring their friends around because they never know what their father is going to do or say. I know they wish they had a different dad. A dad they could count on and one that will be more involved in their lives. I just don’t know what to do other than survive. I want my kids to have their father. I grew up without a dad and I hated it.

Alcoholism and the cycle of shame

I have heard these comments and many more over the years. Binge drinkers usually have a lot of control over their drinking for months. But once they get to a point of too much stress, they tend to explode like a coke can under tremendous pressure. Then it’s off to the races. A turbulent cycle of shame takes over with an never ending chase of the fun, escape, or excitement, followed by consequences (reality and hangover), followed by the pain of remorse, followed by the escape and excitement.

Find help for family drinking problems

If you are the spouse or child of a binge drinker or if you grew up with a parent that was a binge drinker, I suggest you get help. Talk to an addiction counselor, sooner rather than later.

About the author
Dr. Jackson received his Doctorate in Christian Counseling from Omega Bible Institute and Seminary in 2009. He developed the Christian recovery treatment programs for Calvary Rehab Center and the Genesis Center for Recovery. He has trained and practiced Christian Counseling in all areas of drug/alcohol/gambling/sex and relationship addictions. He currently has his own web based online program called 12 Day Rehab Systems, designed for those who can work on recovery while maintaining career and family obligations. Dr. Jackson has been clean and sober since 1984. Learn more about Recovery with Dr. Steve.


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  1. My dad drinks a lot. He yells when he gets drunk and is so disrespectful to my mother. It just sucks to see my mom so depressed because my dumb ass dad is knee deep in bottles of wine. He’s getting older and will retire soon and I’m worrying about his health. I want my siblings and I to go to college. We can’t do that if he isn’t here. He also offers no emotional support. If I have an issue he’s the last person I’d go to. Seeing him just makes me upset

    1. Hi Sad Daughter. Your father have a drinking problem. I suggest that you stage an intervention for him, and take care of your mother. You may consider family therapy as well.

  2. My son is a coke addict and has to have a drink every day he’s been drinking non stop for over a week he is only 24 I’m trying my best but it came to a head this morning and he hit me…..i walloped him back he walk out whin i phoned his older sister and brother……i have not seen or heard from him since any advice please I’m disabled and just can’t watch him kill himself he also has problems himself but we can’t keep blaming something or someone else please help…..

  3. Hi Salford Girl. You are not alone! There are many teens and adults who have gone through difficult, embarrassing, and strange times with family members who binge drink. I’d suggest that you reach out to a counselor or someone that you trust in your community for help. Your family may be a little crazy, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be sucked into it! You can love them without being in their drama.

  4. Sadly my mum and dad are divorcing, my mum had a drink problem when they were together and she still does now, when she binges she drinks way too much in fact so much that she even passes out, it was hard for everyone a few years ago my older step brother thought he was big enough to follow her and sisters and her friends into drinking at the age of 15 in pubs, she saw it as harmless and ridiculed my ill father at the time, my father was mostly at home with me whilst they were out, they would do this more and more especially when my stepbrother began working, one of my bad times was when we were on holiday camping, one night I shared her tent room and soon as she got into her sleeping bag she was sick all over me, she couldnt do anything but my dad managed to get me out clean me up and we both had sleep inside the car, its not big drinking like that its embarrasing.

  5. Hi Amy. You probably know a few things:

    1. Your mum is an alcoholic.
    2. You wish she were better.
    3. You don’t want to be like her.

    It is a very, very difficult situation to be the child of an alcoholic. You need to “un-learn” some of the false beliefs you’ve needed to adapt in order to survive until now. For example, it’s not your fault! And you cannot change your mother, nor are you responsible for her behavior. Children of alcoholics tend to grow up faster than others…they actually have to act like adults in a family. But the good news is that you are not alone and there is help for you!

    Do you know where to go for help? Can you see a psychologist or counselor with your dad, brothers and sisters? You may need to commit to seeing a psychologist or counselor for many months or years in order to help you get a better outlook on life, to adjust your expectations in your family, and to come to harmony with everyone in it. But it’s possible.

    Please let us know how we can help here. You sound like a motivated and intelligent young woman who can really “see” the situation, and is looking for a way out. We can help research local information and resources for you and send them to you via email, if you like.

  6. My mum mostly binges on weekends but sometimes in the week I come home from school not knowing what I’d find her lying on the floor or being locked out becuase she was either at the pub drinking or at the nieghbours house drinking. She’s been doing this for years and when I was little I thought it was the normal for my mum to be like that I remember thinking when she would pick me up from school she looks different today and she acting different and of course she was ‘drunk’. These days are not much better she still binges and my dad has tried nearly everything she promised me she’ll change but she never does I fed up of this its ruined mine and my brother and my sisters life over the years, she knows what she’s done but she won’t give up the drink

  7. Hi Emma. I’m sorry it’s taken so long for you to get a response. I wonder how it’s going with you and your partner now? Are you still together? If so, I’d suggest that you check out Al-Anon for yourself…and start to distance yourself from him until he can become healthy again.

  8. my partner drinks friday through until sunday, i dread each time he returns, I feel terrified I feel sick of this nightmare, i want someone to blame, the government to allow pubs to be open all day, when he drinks he is an aggressive man, he wants the pub no walks no visits to family his weekend is for him and its been a battle for years, slowly i am so ashamed my friends disown me for my choice my life is almost in tatters i am so alone so sick so sad i wish he didnt need his drink but I destroyed myself trying to help him see the light, now all I am waiting is for the key to turn in the door and the abuse to commence when his drinking day is done

  9. as a person who has been sober for over 12 years it was the binge drinking that destroyed everything i considered valuable. the people that meant the most go their ways once they realize you are hostile towards their help. if you’re lucky some will stay but most don’t. the years have passed and i can’t say i blame them. i just miss them.


  10. My father would drink normally most times but then he would unexpectedly go on a binge. I remember one time when he came home from a Saturday golf game when it rained out, smelling like alcohol. He stayed at the club house and decided to play some c@rd$ and drink. I was in 3rd or 4th grader, and I remember that he just acted plain old weird, kissing us and telling us how much he loved us. One thing is for sure: when you add alcohol to a person who holds in their emotions, inhibitions decrease but then inappropriate behavior increases.

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