Name: Lauren Daniels
From: Wantagh, NY
Denying Addiction Destroys Families
The pandemic has opened my eyes up to many truths– and I think my dad is an alcoholic. Watching him stumble around our small party of three, Thanksgiving dinner, was depressing this year. He is coaxed to sleep by beer instead of spending time with my mom and me. If we are lucky, he is a delighted drunk and not a disgruntled drunk. He finds spots to hide his beer cans, both unopened and empty and tricks to sneak his alcohol into glasses that perfectly fit each tallboy. He believes he is hiding his drinking. I have watched the unraveling of my parent’s marriage, triggered by alcohol abuse, for a long time. I am aware that other households endure greater hardships than mine with alcohol and drug addiction and I am thankful there has been no physical abuse to either me or my mother. He is a functioning alcoholic, for now. He goes to work each day and comes home and drinks a six pack. He does not believe he has a problem. My mother and I both know that he does .Watching what alcohol has done to our family, makes me disgusted and fearful for my peers as I watch them drink the weekends away, illegally, hoping they do not dampen the union of their future families.
As a nation, we are dealing with an addiction crisis. And it is not always apparent. Is the dad who comes home and cracks a few beers an alcoholic or is he just unwinding after a hard day? How about the mom who relaxes by sneaking a few pills or smoking a little weed? When the fabric of the family begins to unravel due to the substance abuse, when a lot of energy is expended on disguising and hiding the drug of choice, when domestic arguments break out for what appear to be no reason and harsh words are sputtered with a slight slur and standing becomes difficult, the drug has crossed the line from casual to problematic.
Education, improved mental health care and alternative healthy outlets for teens are critical to combating drug addiction. As the root of addiction is often found in poor self esteem and the need to fit in, it is important to provide services and counseling beginning at a young age. If we are able to recognize the emotions that lead us to seek the temporary relief that drugs appear to provide we may be able to begin to tackle the issue. I feel it is important to create a separate educational class, like sexual and health education, about alcohol and drugs. In this course it needs to be highlighted that reliance on a toxin that controls your body and mind is lethal and not attractive. Providing places for teenagers to gather without alcohol is also helpful. Often there are no activities that young people can enjoy in their communities which leads to hanging out in parks at night, drinking and taking drugs. Too many adults begin their love affair with alcohol and drugs as a result of drinking or taking drugs to fit in and be accepted and thought of as cool as teens. Being inebriated or stoned should not be thought of as flattering or cool. Because it is not. Alcohol and other drugs wreck havoc on one’s health. Diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and digestive problems have been associated with alcohol abuse. As a society, we need to pull the curtain back on the reality of the true long term effects of drugs and alcohol to make them unattractive to young people while providing education and other, more useful outlets.
Perhaps if drinking and drugs were not perceived by young people as attractive, if they had other outlets, if drug and alcohol education was routinely provided in our schools and if mental health services were more readily available, the problem of addiction in our nation would be greatly reduced. And as a result, many life-threatening diseases could be eliminated along with the reduction of social issues including divorce and domestic abuse attributed to problems stemming from addiction.