Substance Abuse

Budweiser…his favorite beer. Winston…his favorite cigarettes. Though I do remember some pleasant and fun times with my dad‚ many of my father-son memories revolve around his drinking and smoking. It was the norm. Most, if not all, of the families and friends our family hung out with were involved in the same social and private behaviors. Is it any wonder I drifted into alcohol and drug use myself between the ages of 13-22?

Substance abuse in a family unit‚ if not stopped‚ will eventually ruin the family internally and externally. The alcohol problem in my family did not stop and it ruined our family. I don’t share this to shame or seek revenge on my dad, but rather to offer a platform of connection and personal understanding to others who had a similar family background. The consequences of our decisions become public domain for good or evil. The consequences of choices we make will come back to honor us or bite us. I am now using the evil done to me to help others and myself in the name of Jesus Christ‚ my Savior and Lord.

I am what they call an “Adult Child of an Alcoholic.” This was the initial unresolved issue God revealed to me: my dad’s alcoholism. The alcoholism damaged me by planting seeds of pain and bent me towards a future that included a distorted and wounded decision-making system where it was absolutely normal to choose alcohol and drugs. And that is what I did fairly heavily through high school and early college…alcohol and drugs. Children of alcoholics commonly end up depressed‚ angry, and messed up somehow. Did you know a person with an alcoholic parent is 4 times more likely to become an alcoholic himself? Is it genetics? No‚ I don’t think it is. I think we learn positives and negatives from our parents‚ modeling what they do even if not aware of it. Children of an alcoholic are much more likely to become alcoholics simply because they do what they caught and were taught. Alcohol and drugs is how pain and life are dealt with in the lives of substance abusers. This is what their children see and learn. Later on those kids‚ now adults‚ begin sensing on some level the painful sprouting and surfacing of the sin of alcoholism that was driven onto and into them. How will they usually respond to this sprouting pain? The only way they know how. The only way modeled to them to that point. They will most likely choose substance abuse or some other compulsive behavior to mask and escape the pain. They may well make rebellious choices saturated with substance abuse.

Whether Christian or not, the child of an alcoholic will most likely respond to the emotional wound through a foggy‚ pain-filled decision-making process. We choose‚ consciously or unconsciously‚ to cross that foggy line and begin our own sin of personal substance abuse and/or other compulsive‚ unhealthy behaviors. By deflecting and ignoring the surfacing pain of having an alcoholic parent, we choose to remain stuck in the damage. Consequently‚ we may well pass on the damage of alcoholism to others‚ especially our own children‚ because we were never willing to get help‚ feel the pain‚ and deal with the deeply buried issues of how our alcoholic parent hurt us with their substance abuse and addiction.

Here we are! The time is now to connect our past with the present and future. Hard choices must be made to either get help or stay in denial‚ compressing the pain and increasing the chances of damaging others close to us. Are you the child or an alcoholic or drug addict? If so‚ you and I were not responsible for the damage they did to us. We were innocent children. But now as adults, we become responsible for our own decisions and actions. We can no longer allow past damage to control us‚ playing unhealthy roles in our decisions. We need to begin living consciously‚ learning why we do some of the things we do. There is hope for adult children of alcoholics! With Jesus Christ we can be liberated from the quirks‚ compulsion, and addictions we somehow enter into as a result of a family substance abuse background. God loves you, and so do we! Please choose to get help! Thanks to my Lord Jesus Christ for working in me by changing my desires so that I could begin making healthy choices to stop using alcohol and drugs, which led to healing from the damage of my dad’s alcoholism.

The following are some things that have helped me and others work through and heal from family substance abuse: