Alcohol-Fueled Parental Abuse: Understanding and Recovering From It

Parents are supposed to be your confidants, most trustworthy advisers, and caregivers. This is why parental abuse can be so damaging to a person, often leaving scars that last a lifetime. This kind of abuse is a dreadful reality for over 600,000 children in the US annually, and a common thread that binds many of these cases is alcoholism in one or both parents.

If you have suffered abuse at the hands of an alcoholic parent, we recognize the trauma can be immeasurable and take a lot of time to heal. This is why we have put together this article just for you. We aim to help you understand the threads binding alcoholism and parental abuse and how to heal and break the cycle.

How Does Alcohol Relate to Parental Abuse?

Like any other destructive addiction, alcoholism has hurtful effects on the addict’s loved ones, especially their immediate family. There are many ways this effect can manifest, as we will soon see, but the tendency of the person with an addiction to act violently towards their loved ones is arguably the worst. 

The link between alcohol and violent behavior goes way back, and modern research has linked the two via the mechanisms of stunted decision-making and mood regulation. When under the influence of alcohol, a person’s mood tends to become volatile, making them tend towards hostile reactions, especially to perceived threats or insults—even from their child. 

How Alcoholic Parental Abuse Affects the Child

There are many dimensions to the abuse that comes from an overconsuming and abusive parent. Here are some of these dimensions.

An alcoholic parent tends to spend more time drinking than with their family. This means physical and emotional distance from their child; an alcoholic father or mother may not be there to advise or guide you when you need it. Essentially, they are never there.

Alcoholism often results in being emotionally out of touch with your loved ones. An alcoholic parent’s emotional abuse can be in the form of being stoic and unresponsive to your emotional cues and needs.

An abusive parent consumed by alcohol may fail to take care of their financial responsibilities, sometimes exchanging most of their money for alcohol. This can be very bad if the parent is the breadwinner, as it may lead to lack and malnourishment. The other parent may then have to take on more responsibilities than they otherwise would, sometimes resulting in more emotional and physical neglect for the child.

This is one of the most damaging results of parental alcoholism. Alcoholism and violent/criminal behavior often go hand in hand, so an alcoholic parent has a high chance of ending up behind bars. Having a parent who is not around due to imprisonment or who has a criminal record can emotionally damage a child. 

Mental abuse from an alcoholic parent manifests in so many ways, ranging from gaslighting, insults, and demeaning comments to a lack of recognition for your achievements and efforts. This form of abuse leaves scars on the mind.

This is the most obvious form of abuse and often the most physically and emotionally damaging for a victim of alcoholic parental abuse. You never entirely forget the experience of hostility from a parent, especially when they become so unrecognizable.

Is Alcohol the Sole Cause of Parental Abuse?

There is a tendency, especially among alcoholics, to blame alcohol-fueled behaviors on drinking. In their sober moments, an alcoholic and abusive parent may sometimes draw you close and apologize for their behavior, claiming the drink made them do it. However, this idea is quite far from the truth. 

To be sure, alcoholism causes growing alterations to the alcoholic’s brain chemistry, causing changes to their normal behavior. The substance itself also tends to lower preexisting inhibitions, eventually leading the alcoholic down a path of poorly considered and maladaptive behavior. Yet, alcoholism is not the sole cause of parental abuse. 

We tend to mistakenly assume that an alcoholic and abusive parent will cease their behavior when they reclaim their sobriety or are not drunk for a while. Unfortunately, this is often wrong, as the abuse doesn’t come from the alcohol but from core issues that may remain unfixed. 

Underlying Causes of Parental Abuse

As we have seen so far, alcohol exacerbates parental abuse but is not the sole cause of it, as there are underlying issues at play. So, what are these issues?

For starters, the idea of alcoholism running in the family is not wrong. The trauma from suffering abuse under an alcoholic parent leads some to alcohol themselves. They may then develop an addiction and end up repeating the same cycle with their own families later in life. 

Then, there is socioeconomic misfortune. People who can’t find jobs, are up to their neck in debt, or cannot make headway in business are understandably frustrated and angry. They may then take out that frustration on, say, their children, a behavior only further amplified by the impaired judgment from alcohol consumption. 

Healing is Possible

The childhood trauma from abuse by an alcoholic parent can be so significant it feels like you’ll never heal. To be sure, the scars may remain. However, you can rise above that trauma, heal emotionally, and break the cycle that may repeat if you don’t heal. 

The first healing step to take is to educate yourself on parental child abuse and its relation to alcohol. This article has hopefully done quite a bit of that for you, but there is more to learn, and there are many agencies whose online resources can help you there. 

Next, you need to seek therapy. Years of emotional and physical abuse from a parent who seems to value some substance more than they value you form a complex of psychological knots that will require professional help to untie.

Finally, you must practice self-care; if you have already developed alcoholic habits, this will also involve recovery therapy. Many addiction rehab centers offer a plethora of addiction recovery services, ranging from addiction intervention, inpatient and outpatient rehab, individual and group therapy, and lifetime aftercare. 

While there is a lot that goes into addiction recovery, these services are guaranteed to put your life back on track.

Did you find this helpful? Check out our other helpful articles on our website.

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HBC Editors
HBC Editors
HBC editors are a group of healthcare business professionals from diversified backgrounds. At HBC, we present the latest business news, tips, trending topics, interviews in healthcare business field, HBC editors are expanding day by day to cover most of the topics in the middle east and Africa, and other international regions.

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