Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – The Face of Addiction

Name: Bailey Stehn

The Face of Addiction

Bailey Stehn

The Face of

I smile and
socialize when people are drinking, I even take a few sips and loosen
up. I don’t go too far because I don’t want to fall too far so
that I am unable to stop. I try to be aware of how much I drink
because my step-dad always drank too much. Too much so that it made
it him angry, too much so that it made him mean and too much so that
it made him choose drinking over making memories with his family. He
chose to drink until he could barely stand, he chose to drink until
he broke bones from falling over, he chose to drink until he could no
longer speak clearly or think coherently. He chose, over and over
again. Was he really choosing? Did he really enjoy being so drunk he
couldn’t speak? Was he sick?

The worst day
happened nine years ago. There was so much yelling I hid in my
closet. Stiff and unable to cry because I was scared of what would
happen. My mom came in and brought me down to her room, she held me
and apologized over and over. She said, “he won’t choose us
second anymore.” She gave him an ultimatum. It was us or alcohol.
My mom called one of his friends who was a recovering alcoholic and
spent hours talking to my stepdad. He explained to him that his
family loved him and wanted the man they knew to come back, he
explained that he needed to make a new choice. He needed to choose
not to drink and chose to prioritize his health and his family. He
did. Until he didn’t anymore.

My step-dad spent
the next 2 years drinking only socially and limiting himself to one
or two drinks during those situations. We were so happy, it felt like
we could talk to him again and that we could make memories like
others family again. He stopped choosing us. It got bad around my
sophomore year of high school and didn’t get better until I was a
sophomore in college. Four years. Four years of bad days and being
second in the life of someone you loved.

He is better now.
He is not sober but he doesn’t drink to get drunk every single day
anymore. I take that as a small victory because it is better than
before and addiction is a disease that keeps pulling people back in.
I am careful not to get pulled in. I don’t want to choose alcohol
over my family and loved ones. I don’t want to let people down and
I don’t want to be another statistic. In a way, I already am a
statistic—I am the face of addiction.