As we play Uno, my stepfather sips his mixed drink. One sip adds on to the last hundred sips I have experienced in my life around him. Now, it is just another drink, but one drink has led to many drinks. I look back on my childhood as an unfortunate one; One riddled with addiction and violence.
Today, I am a 23-year-old adult with my bachelor’s degree and embarking on my masters this summer. I escaped the trauma of my childhood by leaving the broken household but leaving behind my sick stepfather and heartbroken mother. Addiction affects more than the host. It is often a family involvement and does not become resolved in the flick of a wand. While I am grateful that I am no longer living around it, it still saddens me that the alcoholism will never leave his life. My stepdad had a difficult childhood, experiencing violence, molestation, and family alcoholism. After studying psychology, there was no hesitation as to how my stepdad’s childhood impacted his life today. The developing brain, as implied, is malleable. During times of stress in a child’s life, they can adapt using various coping mechanisms. In this case, my stepdad dealt with his trauma using alcohol and drugs. You may be thinking that my story sounds very average. In this case, you are correct because many addicts started using drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms during low points in their life. If we ourselves are not addicted, we can be surrounded by it, making it difficult to move forward with our own lives. He has given up his career, manhood, friends, and trust. He has caused over a decade of yelling and violence. He has caused thousands of tears to fall down our cheeks. We keep our loved ones close to our hearts and hope that they seek treatment for their battles and would do anything for their addiction to end. Many times, it takes an army of individuals to help. But no matter who is there to help, if the person experiencing addiction is not ready for help, then it can be difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
When I left my hometown for college, it was relieving knowing that I no longer had to be around the addiction in my daily life. I slowly let go of my trauma, leaving behind bad memories, and experiencing new memories. I am not an addict and have never dealt with a dangerous addiction. Unlike my stepfather, the takeaway in my childhood was to live a life different from what I experienced. It was clear that I did not want to experience the trauma any longer than I had to. Today, I am proud to say that I live a life with no addiction to alcohol or drugs. My stepdad has been to rehab three times and is still an alcoholic. I will never fully understand what it feels like to have an addiction problem, but I am empathetic to those who do.