Fathers play an important role in a family’s life. Children especially benefit when a father is present to spend time encouraging and demonstrating things in a unique way only fathers can. However, the difficult reality for millions of people is that addiction to alcohol fractures and damages families, often separating fathers from the home emotionally and physically. Alcoholism is a disease with potentially deadly consequences.
Alcoholism affects men more frequently than women. Used as a coping mechanism for stress, excessive drinking can lead to addiction. When a father is addicted to alcohol, nothing else matters. Family, work and community commitments suffer. The University of Michigan researchers reviewed information from over 17,000 participants in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) to compare divorce rates of people affected by alcoholism to people unaffected by alcohol-related issues. Nearly half (48.3%) of study participants with a past or present issue with excessive drinking got divorced in their lifetime. Divorce brings another layer of trauma and difficulty to families struggling to stay together in spite of this deadly disease.
In the United States alone, 79,000 people lose their lives each year to alcohol-related deaths. Over two-thirds of America’s 14 million alcoholics are men, 47% of whom are fathers. Increasingly, tens of thousands (if not more) children are being left without a father. The psychological trauma this causes can have severe repercussions for children as they grow through the teen years into adulthood, learning to navigate the tricky intricacies of adolescence without a father to guide them.
Excessive drinking shortens life spans by more than a decade, affecting the liver, heart and other physical functions to the point of causing irreversible damage. In addition, irreversible damage is done to the psyche and wellbeing of children across America who witnessed the downfall of someone deeply cared for. More than 40 percent of fatal car crashes are linked to excessive drinking which can cause fatalities for more than just the person driving but other passengers and drivers on the road. Many victims are innocently caught in the crosshairs of a serious, deadly condition. Relationships within the family and community at large break apart when fathers are absent, creating rifts large enough to cause permanent disruption and irreversible rupture.
Adult children of alcoholic fathers have an opportunity to challenge a mother or father who is drinking excessively to seek treatment. Though not easy, chances are a parent is more willing to listen to a child’s plea for help than any other person. Rather than wait for tragedy to occur, now may be the time to act. It is up to the person drinking to seek treatment but with some support and help, it is possible to recover from the ravages of alcoholism, before it is too late.