Alcohol and drug dependencies have been a significant problem among the populations of different countries around the globe. One of the subjects often discussed in association with this issue is the cause and effect of substance abuse in marriage and family life of the individuals struggling with the dependencies. Many families are unable to solve this problem, and spouses often decide to leave their partners struggling with alcohol or drug consumption issues. Studies have shown that “divorce is a potent risk factor for onset of drug abuse, even after adjusting for deviant behavior in adolescence and family history of drug abuse” (Edwards, et al. 1010). Other factors associated with the issues include negative life events, such as depression, mental disorders, and anger issues. This essay will present my own story of struggling with an alcohol dependency and discuss it in relation to the general causes and effects of this issue in relation to sadness and cultural displacement marriage.
My own experience of living with an alcohol dependency is connected to problems that occurred in my marriage. Being an African American woman, I married a Sardinian man; since two cultures were present in our marriage, we wanted our children to have the experience and benefits both the US and Sardinia could offer. At the time, I did not know about the specifics of the Sardinian society and could not imagine the effect it would have on my life. As I came to live there with my family and children, I realized that it was a matriarchal society with small village mentality. I was mostly able to talk to other women there, but it was extremely difficult for me to communicate with them; most of the topics they discussed concerned children and household chores. As an academic and a person who had worked most of her life, I was eager to talk about larger concepts and topics, such as politics, arts, and traveling.
Under all this pressure, I started drinking to escape the problems of everyday life. While it helped me to avoid dealing with the issues I faced at that period of my life, alcohol use also drove a wedge between my family members and me. In addition to physical and mental issues that I had, I started alienating my friends and family, arguing with my husband and blaming him for bringing me to his country. In hindsight, I realize that all of these problems were the result of my alcohol dependency.
As in many other cases of substance abuse, several interconnected issues can be identified as the main causes of alcohol or drug dependencies. These causes can vary in nature, resulting from genetic, psychological, social, and environmental factors. Extreme stress, depression, and anxiety are among the most common mental health disorders that can lead to substance abuse. Traumatic experiences and events, as well as sadness and cultural displacement, can also cause individuals to form a dependency on alcohol or drugs (Gulati and Kelly). Arguably, these were the factors that most influenced me when I developed destructive drinking habits.
Clearly, these addictions do not help to solve any of the problems in the lives of those suffering from them. On the contrary, they often lead to adverse consequences and aggravate the feelings of sadness and displacement. This was definitely true in my case, as I eventually became more depressed, powerless, and unwilling to change my life. I started showing indifference even to my children and arguing more often with my husband. Other common effects of alcohol and drug abuse in marriage include dissatisfaction, negative patterns of marital interaction, and higher incidence of domestic violence. When the problem is not addressed timely and efficiently, it can also lead to developmental problems in children, as they are often neglected in these cases.
Therefore, it can be suggested that all family members can be affected by an individual’s destructive substance dependencies. Partners can develop anger issues and even resort to violence. A large number of studies have shown that domestic violence often results from the fact that one or both spouses or partners in the household struggle with substance addictions (Gulati and Kelly). It can also lead to a drained family budget, as people with alcohol or drug use habits are often unable to spend family finances reasonably (Thomas, et al.). Last but not least, alcohol and drug consumption can lead to serious health effects, such as liver disease, brain damage, heart disease, and stroke. Seeing their loved one struggle with physical and mental issues can be extremely traumatic for the whole family.
It can be concluded that habits of alcohol and drug use are still an extremely important public health and social issue. Having experienced the adverse effects of these dependencies, I can state that it is essential for both the struggling individual and their family members to address the problem timely and efficiently. While these habits may seem to provide temporary comfort to those experiencing traumatic life events, they cause much more serious problems, affecting all family members. Therefore, the whole family should be involved to address the problem and prevent any possible complications.
Edwards, Alexis C., et al. “Associations Between Divorce and Onset of Drug Abuse in a Swedish National Sample.” American Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 187, no. 5, 2017, pp. 1010-1018.
Gulati, Gautam, and Brendan D. Kelly. “Domestic violence against women and the COVID-19 pandemic: What is the role of psychiatry?” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, vol. 71, 2020, p. 101594.
Thomas, Nathaniel S., et al. “Alcohol use disorder, psychiatric comorbidities, marriage and divorce in a high-risk sample.” Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, vol. 36, no. 4, 2022, pp. 364-374.