Addiction is explicitly defined as the compulsive craving of a drug or certain behavior. This is mostly driven by pleasure centers in your brains and studies have shown that it is genetic. So it is already hard wired into you at birth, and it can run in the family. Like in mine, both of my parents are addicts and their drug of choice is alcohol. Today, they are in recovery but the road to recovery was long, hard and important. I am proud of my parents. Once they hit rock bottom they had the ability and strength to pull them selves up. It wasn’t easy.
My mom’s road to recovery started when I was 10 years old. She was one of those moms who would finish a bottle of wine and then send us to bed so she could finish her second and third bottles. The sad thing was that my siblings and I thought this was normal. Looking back to when we were growing up, our mom was a drunk until the summer of 2006 when she got sober.
Mom was nice (for the first time I could remember) and would always drop us off at our grandmother’s (Gigi). She would drop us around 4 o’clock and pick us up around 9 o’clock, saying that she was going to meeting. When we asked our grandmother what mom was doing, she would say; “Your mother is getting help.” Gigi helped us a lot get through the rough first year of my mom’s sobriety, feeding us and taking care of us after school. My mom’s journey wasn't really in the spotlight, unlike our father.
My dad flirted with sobriety twice – once while my parents were getting a divorce when I was eight and again when I was 17. The first time he was a dry drunk, meaning that he would go to meetings but never really buy into the steps of the 12-step program. Which, unfortunately resulted in him falling off the wagon as most dry drunks do. It’s like building a home on sand where earthquakes are common. You are sort of destined for failure.
We (myself and my little sister and brother) witnessed his relapse down a slippery slope called alcoholism. We saw how quickly it can take a hold of a person. I remember for a short time he could control having a beer or two a night but then it quickly escalated to a couple glasses of wine, then to half a bottle, and finally getting to the point that he was drinking himself to sleep every night. There was a stark difference in the way he acted too; he was more reclusive, distracted and not really all there.
I take some responsibility in his recovery. I had gotten a parking ticket a couple days before his last drink, and he was going to the police station to pay the ticket. When he approached the counter to pay the ticket, the officer that was on duty looked him in the eyes and smelled him. My dad not only had red blood shot eyes but he smelled like alcohol, something that was normal for us to witness.
The officer did not ignore my dad, giving him two choices. The first was that he could call a friend to take him home because the officer could smell the alcohol on his breath. Or, the second was that he could get into his car and the officer would arrest him for a DUI. He decided at that point to call my mom, who was getting certified as a recovery specialist.
My mom called a drug and alcohol rehab that she had a relationship with in the area. When she picked him up, my mom gave him a similar ultimatum as the police officer did. She said, “You either go to rehab or you never see the kids again.” He chose rehab!
I only remember being sad because he was supposed to pick me up from wrestling practice. I had no idea that he was admitted to rehab. He wasn't answering his phone and I was petrified that the worst had happened. Worrying about my dad was something that I did up until that day often.
Eventually, my mom picked me up and told me that he was in rehab and that he tried to call me while I was in practice. That was one of the most relieving moments of my life.
Now, both of my parents are sober! My dad is better a lot better! My mom has created a nonprofit in the hopes of changing the face of addiction. She is also coaching people as they fight this terrible disease!
Addiction is a disease that I know all to well and my only hope is that there is change! I don’t want any kids to have to deal with the hard times that my family had to deal with. I have been blessed to be able to talk about it and be open. I don’t have to feel ashamed anymore which I am so grateful for!