Adult Children of Addicts are at a far greater risk to develop addiction to substance abuse.
This is the story of three brave men:
My father was the son of an alcoholic. He had a brother and 3 sisters who all would partake in the ocassional alcoholic beverage but never let it interfere with the normal every day functions of their lives. My father, on the other hand carried on the family tradition/trait/ illness, or whatever you wish to call it. He was not an abusive drunk, although I do remember he and his best friend trashing our house fighting each other when I was a pre-teen. He was very much involved in my life and that of my brother and sister, but he was still an alcoholic.
As years passed, his drinking became more and more severe. It wasn’t until my teen years that I really started paying attention and noticing that he was consuming a case or so of beer by himself, everyday, along with as much as a pint of liquor. He became more pissed off at the world and everything about it. The world was out to get him and so was everyone on the planet. It was getting to the point where nothing we did was right.
After graduating high school, it was time to marry my high school sweetheart. A day I had dreamt of for a long time. I was never one for dating and the whole girlfriend issue, but this girl was for me and I was so looking forward to that special night and our first dance as husband and wife. In the middle of the most special dance of my life, my father interrupted and said, “why don’t you play something we all like?” Our wedding song was “All Of My Love” by Led Zeppelin.
I was stunned, flabbergasted, ashamed, and yet I let it slide.
I vowed my entire life that I would not be like him, and to that I stayed pretty true. Sure, I had the occasional drink as a teenager. Yes, I got drunk from time to time but never really cared enough for it to become a regular thing. Never would I be like him. I would not put my children through that, even if he was not mean, it was not a childhood I would not want any kid to have to live. Little did I realize at the time that I was just like him.
Although I was not a drinker, I had no problem smoking pot, tripping on acid and mescaline, doing ‘shrooms, or just about any mind-altering substance that I could get my hands on. But hey, I was not a drunk.
It wasn’t until my mid twenties, deep into a cocaine free basing addiction that my wonderful wife, the high school sweetheart, told me ”I don’t know what you are doing, but you either quit or I leave.”
Wow, a brick in the face that one was.
I finally looked at myself in the mirror, literally, and saw a pasty grey skinned man, skinny and sick looking he was just one step away from death or an institution.
I quit. I vowed to myself and my wife that I would never touch the stuff again. I spent several years going to narcotics anonymous, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day and I am proud to say I am free, clean, and sober. I am a fairly healthy 45 year old man still married to my high school sweet heart, and I have 3 wonderful sons and 2 grandsons.
I have felt their joys and sorrows. I have seen their smiles and frowns. I have been there for them. And I was there to help my oldest son through his addiction.
He chose to follow me and go the drug route. I have always been open with my children about drugs hoping that it would steer them away since I was speaking from personal experience; not quoting something I read in a book. He saw it like, hey you’re still alive, it couldn’t have been THAT bad.
On his 17th birthday, I did something that even I could not believe.
On the way home from picking him up at school one evening, he was so wasted that he was actually hallucinating in my car, asking me questions about how we were going to get the car through all those trees, and what were we going to do when we got to the end of the road where it turns red. I was so scared for him; it was time for another search of his room. I found pot growing in his closet, for the second time, so I figured I had no choice. I turned in my own son and he spent his 17th birthday in the county jail, and several others months following. It opened his eyes a bit. He stumbled a few times since but is now a wonderful 21 year old man with 2 sons.
One night, not to long ago, he finally told me that he hated me for quite a while for turning him in, but he then said he could not thank me enough for what he did and that he loved me.
I am constantly worried about him. Will the stress of the children lead him back to the drugs? Will he make it through as I have? Will any of his children follow the familiar path?
One good thing that has come of my sons addiction is that his younger brothers want absolutely nothing to do with any of it. So for now I just let him, and his brothers know, that I will always be there for them, and that life might not always be wonderful but it could always be worse.
And of course, I must thank my wonderful wife.
She stayed with me.
She saw the problems and instead of bailing out she stuck by my side.
She spent several weeks with very little sleep as my mind and body fought each other she was there to calm me.
She saved my life.
Thank you, Frank, for your wonderful recovery story. What a great mentor you are to others.
It always gives me hope to read how another recovering addict can LIVE! And to read that your son is recovering too? It gives me chills. The program works. Thank you for sharing your experience, strength, and hope.
Your story (and others like it) seem to point in the direction that addiction and addictive personality is hereditary.
I myself have wondered time and time again what makes one sibling (or family member) have the ability to drink every so often and stop at one, while the other sibling becomes a raging addict upon the first taste.
Congratulations on working hard to stay clean!
My parents are both addicts – sober now, but addicts. I became one in my early thirties and had to climb out of the huge hole of suck I’d built by my nails. I’m still amazed to be alive.
Congrats to both you and your son – giving up the drugs is hard as hell, but I know you’ve got it.