Two young people met and fell in love. Every weekend they went out drinking and had a good time. When the wife became pregnant she thought the weekend binges would stop. After all, he should be focused on providing for his new family, she thought. He continued excessively drinking….for years. The kids continued to grow up and watch the anger and isolation of their parents. Finally, he admitted to being an alcoholic, went into treatment, and came out a new man. Life was finally going to be better! However, the angry outbursts, the criticism, the verbal abuse….none of that stopped. He was never wrong. She was never right. Does this sound familiar?
The family longs for happiness and security. The father knows it’s his fault while the family begins to wonder if they are the reason for his drinking. (The “big book” refers to the father as the addict. According to a Harvard study Addiction in Women men were twice as likely to be affected by addiction than women.) While struggling with substances the addict can be irritable, angry, violent and abusive, melancholy, or apathetic. Verbal and emotional abuse are just as damaging to the family’s health as physical abuse.
Finally, the children grow up. Carrying the emotional scars with them, they begin to abuse substances to mask their pain. Without help and intervention this pattern can carry on. The entire family suffers socially, psychologically, emotionally, and physically because of substance abuse. Men, you are making a difference. To generations. Is it the difference you want to make? We all have a choice between making a negative difference or a positive difference!
The “big book” from Alcoholics Anonymous quotes: “Cessation of drinking is but the first step away from a highly strained, abnormal condition. A doctor said to us, “Years of living with an alcoholic is almost sure to make a wife or child neurotic. The entire family is, to some extent, ill.”” It couldn’t be more aptly stated that alcoholism or addiction to any substance, for that matter, affect everyone around the addict. Men, You Are Making a Difference: One Woman’s Story (355 words)