Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – MY family and addiction

Name: Galena Clark

MY family and addiction

Addictions can
cause harm in many ways. This includes physical, emotional and
societal harm. I have seen first-hand the impact gambling, drugs and
alcohol can have on the individual that is the abuser and on those
surrounding them.

My uncle Mike was
always a drinker but did not start drinking alcohol every day until
about 10 years ago when the company he owned was having financial
difficulties. The drinking escalated at the same time the business
was failing. At the same time, his marriage was falling apart. With
his business and marriage spiraling down-hill and drinking daily,
this led to divorce. Police were called several times for domestic
violence after he was drunk punching holes in the walls.

After the
divorce, his drinking did not improve and neither did his business
which went bankrupt a couple years later. Mike visited his parents
and his brother (my dad) the Thanksgiving after the divorce.
Drinking heavily, he ended up yelling at his mom, dad, brother and
even my seven-year-old brother. We have refused to be around him
since that time. About two years later, his teenage daughter voiced
her concern about his drinking after his first DUI. This led to him
getting extremely angry, threatening her and she has not seen or
talked to him for over two years. He has now alienated everyone in
the family except his son who also is a drug abuser.

Drugs abuse has
also had an impact on my family. Shannon was my mom’s best friend
from high school. A gorgeous blonde with a great singing voice, she
was the envy of many girls. She started using cocaine during their
senior year of school and moved on to meth soon after graduating. My
mom stayed in contact with her for only a year or so after high
school by which time Shannon was unmarried and pregnant. They
reconnected a few years ago and I got to meet her. I did not believe
my mom that they were the same age nor that it was the same person in
the yearbook pictures. This woman looked at least 15 years older
than my mom, had all gray hair, purple blotches on her face and
missing several teeth.

We got to know
Shannon and what had happened to her over the past 20 years. Unhappy
with the weight gain from having her son, she started using heroin.
This helped her lose weight and her entire family along with it. Her
mother gained legal custody of her two children and raised them for
about 10 years. Shannon was hooked on meth and heroine. She
shop-lifted for cash to by the drugs and lived in a car. The
stealing eventually led to an arrest and jail time. This was the
best thing for her as she got clean and sober in jail.

After getting out
of jail, Shannon met a new man, got married and regained custody of
her children. During this time, she started a house cleaning
business. She was doing quite well for several years until her
husband divorced her and she relapsed with pain killers. The
business closed when she had her first stroke at the age of 38.
While recovering from the stroke, she fell and broke her neck.
During surgery to fuse her vertebrae, she had another stroke and then
two more in the next month. She spent eight months in an in-house
patient treatment center. Her bones are brittle from all the years
of heroin and meth and is at high risk for another stroke. Currently
on social security, she has become a burden on society that stems
from the decisions she made to use drugs 20 years ago.

addiction was the downfall of my father before he met my mom. He had
lost his job, had his car repossessed and piled up bills going to
collection agencies. After moving back in with my grandparents,
grandma took over his finances. She took his paycheck each week and
set him up on a budget allowing him to have no more than $10 in his
wallet at any time. This got turned over to my mom when they married
and it took many years of gambling counseling to allow him to have a
credit card and access to the bank account. He still makes bad money
decisions so he is still limited on total amounts.

The societal
impact of Shannon’s drug abuse has led to taxpayers having to pay
for all her medical procedures and support her for the rest of her
life due to the disabilities. Physically, she cannot work and can
only move around with difficulty. Her family relationships are
strained as they never know if she is going to relapse again. The
emotional harm on our family has been great from my uncle’s
drinking. It causes undue stress to everyone each year during the
holidays wondering if he is going to show up and get violently drunk.
The gambling addiction is suppressed and we will always have to
watch my dad to make sure he is not overspending.