Growing up I watched my mom suffer from alcoholism and drug abuse. I witness first-hand the impact of how powerful addiction truly is and its ability to completely rip a family to pieces. I’ve experienced the rage of the alcoholic monster imbedded in my mother’s mind and have held her crippled body in times of weakness. I have tangled love and hate into one dysfunctional emotion as my heart broke time and time again as a little girl ultimately leaving me calloused. Eventually I learned that by tightly squeezing my eyes shut, shoving my fingers into my ears, and slowly rocking back and forth would not make her stop. It would take something more than my fear to save her life. I’ve taken note over the years of my progressively ill mother and her dependency on a bottle of wine and other substances. Her desire for hope, security, love, comfort, and peace has been distorted into an addiction that merely fills voids for only hours at a time. I am watching my mom die.
Memories flood my mind as I try to think of when I first became aware of my mothers drinking problems. When I was just seven, I was feeding my brother his baby food when I called for my mom’s help and got no reply. I roamed around the house cluttered with mess, tilting to one side with a two-year old on my hip; food all over the two of us. I began to panic after searching for my mom and finding silence. It had just gotten dark outside when I slowly peered into her room and managed to spy her two pale and skinny legs peeking through the mountains of clothes and junk consuming the floor. My heart instantly dropped along with my little brother down to my feet as my voice strained to scream. I raced through the house and across the street screaming with every bit of strength my little seven year old voice had in her, “HELP! MY MOM IS DEAD!!” the rest of the memory is shaded and unclear with scenes of a panic attack, my neighbors, alcohol, and my little brother. It was then that I knew something was wrong, that my mom turned into someone else after drinking from that bottle. It was my first recollection of the pain associated with alcoholism. A pain so sharp I will never forget. Pain that still lingers into my adult life.
By the time my teenage years hit, my mother’s nights of blacking out happened far too often. She began to try to hide her addictions from my siblings and me. There were nights when she would be out drinking so much that the instant she pulled into the driveway she would pass out in the car, sometimes with the engine still running. I remember my sister and I trying lifelessly too drag her into the house hoping to at least make it through the door before leaving her there to recover. Those nights became too tiring both physically and mentally, that we eventually started leaving her in the car. We would turn the car off, roll down the window, and lay her seat back hoping that by morning she would realize. I’m not sure if she ever did. The alcohol would allow her mind to mistake our right doings for her own and our hard work for less than a gesture.
There are over 22-million people in the United States who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs. The illness of addiction by far affects every person in our society with no neglect to age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Alcoholism and drug addiction impact not only our immediate families but our communities, health and criminal justice systems, and the work places. Sometimes when thinking about our health and how to live healthy lifestyles we seem to neglect addiction problems. Through these unhealthy behaviors families are broken and lives are torn apart.
- Alyssa B.
If you know someone with a substance abuse problem, there is hope. Go to this site for a variety of Substance Abuse Programs.