Living with an alcoholic is like living in a war zone!

Strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers

Al-Anon Family Groups

About one in ten children in the United States lives with a parent with an alcohol misuse problem.

In a word, “devastating.” That’s how Dr. George Koob describes the impact of a loved one’s alcoholism on family members and friends. Dr. Koob is the Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which is the leading funder of alcohol research in the world.

In this exclusive interview—released today—with Pamela Walters, Marketing Information Analyst for Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Dr. Koob is candid about concerns, not only for the person who drinks, but for those affected by the drinker.

“Children, particularly adolescents, but even younger children, friends and family members, all can be affected by an individual with an alcohol use disorder,” said Dr. Koob. He continued, “They often are experiencing negative emotions. They feel stressed. They feel alienated. They can become aggressive. These symptoms can lead to low self-esteem.”

In focusing on how children are affected by a parent’s drinking, Dr. Koob said, “About one in ten children in the United States lives with a parent with an alcohol misuse problem.” Dr. Koob commented on the subsequent, negative effects on a child’s development. Parents struggling with alcohol use disorders are sometimes “barely able to maintain themselves, much less take care of a child,” he said.

Dr. Koob continued, “We know that a child with a parent who binge drinks is much more likely to binge drink than a child whose parents do not binge drink. We know that it can lead to dynamics in the family that contribute to the development of alcohol use disorders in the children themselves, when they grow up.” He went on to reference research the Institute is conducting to get the word out about the family cycle of alcoholism, and to encourage those who are affected by a parent’s, or anyone’s, problem drinking to seek help from Al-Anon.

“I’ve had many of my colleagues over the years who joined Al-Anon because their parents had alcohol problems, and they found it very, very helpful for protecting them against their own vulnerabilities,” Dr. Koob said. He encourages friends and family members to get help for themselves in dealing with a problem drinker. “And that then can lead to a strengthening of yourself, but also of your ability to get help for intervention,” he said.

Find all of Dr. Koob’s comments in “NIAAA Director talks about the impacts of alcoholism on family members and friends,” as part of the “First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” podcast series at

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAAA supports and conducts research on the impact of alcohol use on human health and well-being. It is the leading funder of alcohol research in the world.

Al-Anon Family Groups are for families and friends who have been affected by a loved one’s drinking. Nearly 16,000 local groups meet throughout the U.S., Canada, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico every week. Al-Anon Family Groups meet in more than 130 countries, and Al-Anon literature is available in more than 40 languages. Al-Anon Family Groups have been offering strength and support to families and friends of problem drinkers since 1951. Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. acts as the clearinghouse worldwide for inquiries from those who need help or want information about Al-Anon Family Groups and Alateen, its program for teenage members.

For more information about Al-Anon Family Groups, go to and read a copy of Al-Anon’s annual public outreach magazine “Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2015.”

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