I feel that alcohol causes problems not only to the user / drinker but also to their spouses, children, and other family members. Problem drinking can change the roles played by family members in relation to one another and the relationships that surround them. As a family member develops this problem, the drinker may fail to perform his or her functions as a breadwinner, to the support their children or to complete chores. These things get done by another person, often times, the spouse. However, a child may be forced to take on adult roles and responsibilities depriving them of their childhood. The child, may, (like the non-drinking spouse) feel that he or she is to blame for the problems the family.
The drinker's behavior usually becomes unpredictable and disruptive making it difficult for the family to plan activities in advance or to stick to routines. The unpredictable, disruptive behavior of the drinker maybe embarrassing to them. The family may have a difficult time explaining to others the real reasons for what is happening in the family setting and out of the family setting. Domestic violence and alcohol are often associated. Drinking is not necessary for domestic violence to occur; however, many abusers are either alcoholics or under the influence of alcohol at the time of the abuse. The child may experience various forms of neglect and feel abandoned by both parents.
Alcohol problems vary in nature and in severity. Therefore, how badly a child is affected by the problems depend on the child's age. A child under five is more vulnerable to poor or lack of physical care and nurturance; on the other hand, the older child may be more susceptible to psychological damage. Of course the younger child can also suffer from psychological damage. Children of problem drinking parents are at increased risk of problems during their childhood. They can show anti-social behavior, emotional problems and problems at school.
Children of problem drinking parents are at risk of problems, but not all children experience problems at the same level. Some do not appear to experience any problems even while they are children, let alone as adults. Some of the factors influencing the higher chances of a child experiencing problems are: violence, marital conflict, separation, divorce and loss of a parent, inconsistency in parenting. So, you see, alcohol can affect the family and the development of the family in many ways. The development can be stunted or stopped until the alcohol user gets help. And until, the family recognizes that this alcohol use is a problem, the cycle of the break down of the family unit will be perpetuated.