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Unread 04-10-2012, 04:58 AM   #1
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Serotonin He who feared he would not succeed sat still.
 
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Default My father was a chronic alcoholic who drank himself to death.

Some people don't like to use the term "illness" or disease" to describe alcoholism, as they refuse to view it as such. Well, let me tell you, after having witnessed my father slowly drink himself to death over the course of his alcoholic career, I can safely testify that alcoholism is in fact an illness, or a "syndrome" or "condition" if you prefer those euphemistic terms, as there is no way that anyone wants or chooses to be an alcoholic and to do that to themselves.

Whilst suffering from chronic anxiety and clinical depression in my late 20's I inadvertently stumbled upon a book called the "Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome" by Wayne Kritsberg, it's still in publication. I just could not believe what I discovered in that book. It was as if I had finally discovered myself, that the book had been written specifically for me, as it outlined all of my personality characteristics in great depth and detail, and explained why I was the way I was. I was completely blown away, but relieved that now everything was clear; there was a reason for the way I had been feeling all my life, and I was definitely not insane or alone.

My mom and dad separated when I was ten, and my most frequent memories up to then were of them fighting, bickering, and arguing with eachother, with my dad usually being heavily intoxicated, sometimes to the point of delirium. When he was really drunk he behaved like someone who was very mentally ill ie. psychotic. His speech became incomprehensible, and he would often break down and cry. It was seeing him in this state so frequently that caused me the greatest upset as a child, as I was just too young to understand what was happening to him.

The night before we were due to go on holiday he attempted suicide by slashing his wrists in a public toilet cubicle. He was saved by a guy who spotted the pool of blood making its way out from underneath the door. A short time later he made another attempt on his life, this time by taking an overdose of pills. I would have been no older than 8 or 9 years old, and this was all very confusing for me. I just didn't understand the concept of suicide, or why anyone would want to try to take their own life. This bewilderment was banished with my own experience of clinical depression in later life.

When my parents split my mother was given custody of her only child ie. me. Living with her wasn't easy, as she was a neurotic, immature, irritable, angry, argumentative, and paranoid woman, with a disposition to anxiety and depression herself, although to my knowledge this went undiagnosed.
Although separated, my father would come to the house quite often; sometimes sober, sometimes drunk, and this caused a lot of tension, as it was like having two dads, one a good natured, kind, likeable, and loving man, the other a completely different person, who would just sit in a pitiful intoxicated state and slur his speech, rarely making any sense whatsoever. Sometimes he would become angry and aggressive, my mom would foolishly argue with him, and on a few occasions he lashed out and physically attacked her. But this behaviour was just so uncharacteristic of him when he was sober.

Despite his out of control alcoholic behaviour I began to develop a close relationship with my dad, and went to visit him often when he was in the psychiatric facility receiving treatment for his depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. I quickly learned to adapt to (broken) family dysfunction, and the volatility, turbulence, unpredictability, and constant trauma of my father's chronic alcoholic behaviour. From 16-19 I used to stay with my dad quite a lot, and even moved in with him for a while, in an attempt to help him overcome his illness. Suffice to say, this didn't work out, and in the end I had to leave, as although he managed to refrain from alcohol consumption for almost 2 years, his drinking behaviour resumed with a vengeance, and it became impossible to live with him.

As a teenager I had a lot of anger in me, and began to experience chronic anxiety and clinical depression in my early to mid 20's. I did not make any association between what I was experiencing and my childhood, as I did not want to entertain the possibility of my father's behaviour having any impact on my mental and emotional health. I was stronger than that, or at least that's how I used to deceived myself. But after having journeyed through a lot of self help Psychology and ACOA literature, it became increasingly apparent that I was not as invulnerable as I liked to think I was. In fact, it became apparent I had been greatly affected by my father's illness, and in many different and interrelated ways.

I used to self-medicate with alcohol to cope with anxiety and depression, and was misdiagnosed with "Alcohol Dependence Syndrome" myself about 12 years ago. I say "misdiagnosed", as when the psychiatrist suggested that I had a dependence on alcohol and should receive relevant treatment, I rejected the offer and instead drastically reduced my alcohol intake and then gave up alcohol completely just to prove to myself that I was not dependent, and that what had happened to my father was not going to happen to me. But alcoholism can be a hereditary illness, and I recognise that 50% of my biological make-up is composed of that of a chronic alcoholic, and that I am at much greater risk of becoming an alcoholic than people who did not have an alcoholic parent. I no longer drink alcohol, except on very rare occasions, like at Xmas, and it is minimal, as I actually feel much better without regular alcohol consumption in my life.

I am an Adult Child Of An Alcoholic. I possess all of the personality and behavioural characteristics of an ACOA, in varying degrees. I've read the "laundry list" and ticked all the boxes. I discovered myself and began to understand the way I am many years ago, so all of this is no revelation or epiphany, I am basically re-treading old and familiar ground. But I have never posted my thoughts, feelings, and experiences on an internet site before, and although initially reluctant to do so, have actually found the experience to be quite therapeutic; the first and final confession as it were, to finally draw a line in the sand, confine the past to the past, and clear the path in front of me of all obstructive debris.

My father died in January 2005. He had began drinking himself to death since probably before I was born, always insisted that he had been "born an alcoholic", and was found dead in his apartment with empty bottles of wine at his feet; my mom described the scene as "just pitiful".

The pain and suffering which had become his life has been over now for seven years. He's at rest now, finally at peace, and despite the fact that his alcoholism drove a huge wedge between him and I as I grew older and admittedly less tolerant of his alcoholic behaviour, I loved him, continue to love him, and miss the person that he essentially was: a good-natured, kind, and decent man; plagued to death by a terrible, degenerative illness.

Pity me not, for I feel no pity for myself. If anything, I was merely a victim of circumstance. If anyone is deserving of some sympathy, it's my dad, and other people like him who are currently going through what he had to go through.

For my Dad.
R.I.P.

Last edited by Serotonin; 04-10-2012 at 06:21 AM.
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Unread 04-10-2012, 07:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: My father was a chronic alcoholic who drank himself to death.

Thanks for your share.
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Unread 04-10-2012, 01:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: My father was a chronic alcoholic who drank himself to death.

Thank you for sharing this. I'm glad you did! It must have been a difficult childhood.

Both my parents were alcoholics. I remember that every-other night, we could count on fights. Some of them were knock-down drag-out types. Others were just the yelling. Out of 4 girls, I was the third, and I had to intervene more than once. We seldom got enough sleep at night on school nights.

Strangely enough, neither my Dad nor my Mom died of alcohol related diseases. Dad had a heart attack (well, it COULD have been due to alcohol) and Mom died of congestive heart failure.

And *I* became an alcoholic. I'm the only one of the 4 kids that did. I swore as a kid that I'd never drink -- but I did. I drank heavily for 20 years, but after my now ex said that I was a rotten mother (he was an alcoholic too) I went home from the bar and called AA. That was in 1993 and I haven't had a drink since. Unfortunately, my 42 year old son is an alcoholic. So we pass along this horrible disease from one generation to another. I've tried & tried to help him, even putting him in rehab. But unless he WANTS the help, nothing will work.

I'm now raising my Granddaughter, and thank God she has never seen me drink! I hope to God she stays away from alcohol because her father is a drunk/addict too. (she never sees him)

I really appreciate your sharing your story. It WILL give others hope. God bless and please take care! Hugs, Lee
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Unread 04-10-2012, 02:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: My father was a chronic alcoholic who drank himself to death.

Thanks Lee, and Wakadojobilly.

If I'm honest with myself, I think I may have become ever so slightly dependent on alcohol during the period of chronic anxiety and clinical depression, but it wasn't serious enough to warrant hospitalisation. I'm virtually teetotal now, and I really don't miss alcohol.


But the genetic component of alcoholism is quite strong, with children of alcoholics being at 4 times greater risk of inheriting and developing the illness themselves. But hereditary is like a lottery, with some siblings inheriting a very strong genetically determined predisposition to alcoholism, while others receive only a small genetic predisposition or virtually none at all.


The most important aspect of hereditary is that although you may have inherited the genetic inclination to alcoholism, and are thus much more vulnerable to developing the disease than those who haven't; you still have freedom of choice and your own personal volition, to choose whether to drink or not to drink, although admittedly, this can be hard.


We are dealt a hand of biological cards at birth, we don't get to choose them, and we don't have any opportunity to exchange them. All we can do is play with the hand of cards that we've been dealt, in our own best interests, and to the best of our abilities.

Last edited by Serotonin; 04-10-2012 at 03:18 PM.
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Unread 04-10-2012, 08:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: My father was a chronic alcoholic who drank himself to death.

Serotonin, I'm sorry about the loss of your dad. I can relate to much of what you wrote. My dad's been an alcoholic for about 40 years. He only quit drinking a year ago because his liver was starting to fail. The alcohol was making him feel sick instead of drunk, so that was his motivation to finally stop. His health is still bad though. He's never shown any remorse for all the grief he put me and my mom through over the years. I've never had a close relationship with my dad. He was never a loving or doting father kind of guy. My mom did nothing to help that along either, because that would've taken focus from her. My relationship with both my parents is very strained right now.

You seem to have a great deal of insight and maturity. And good for you for stopping drinking. It most definitely can be hereditary. All but one of my dad's siblings has a drinking problem.

I wish you all the best with your emotional healing.
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Unread 04-11-2012, 05:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: My father was a chronic alcoholic who drank himself to death.

Thanks for sharing, Nature Girl.

I have come a long way, can talk about this unemotionally, and can empathise with your own personal experience. My dad's cirrhosis of the liver had ravaged that organ so badly that it was virtually non-existent. The cause of death entered on his death certificate was "chronic alcoholism", the exact cause of death was not specified, but I firmly suspect heart failure, as he also suffered from angina.

Alcoholism is a mental, emotional, and physical illness; the physical addiction to alcohol being the most prominent and treatable component of the illness, and many alcoholics do successfully abstain from alcohol consumption permanently and make a
full recovery; so don't give up on your dad just yet.

Alcoholism also greatly affects the personality of the sufferer, and can cause radical transformations in mood and temperament. Alcoholics can also be very self centred people, as alcohol is love number 1. in their life, so it doesn't surprise me that your dad hasn't displayed any remorse, as like my own dad, he probably doesn't feel that he has done anything wrong, or does, but is not fully aware of the extent of hurt and damage that his been caused by his illness.

Also, alcoholics can just stop loving and caring about other people, if they ever did. The only real important thing in the alcoholic's life is the acquisition and consumption of alcohol, with many reporting not to "get drunk", but to simply feel normal.

Have strength, and enjoy your day.
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Unread 04-19-2012, 12:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: My father was a chronic alcoholic who drank himself to death.

Yes, it does pass down generations in most cases. While I was the youngest of two children, my brother became an alcoholic in his 20's and became homeless as a result. I have done my share of drinking, but have never had to seek help for it. I've slowed way down in my 40's as my lifestyle just doesn't need it, or want it anymore.

My brother drank heavily for 20 plus years, moving from bridge to bridge, apartment to apartment, alley to alley. Eventually, he sobered up and is now living in a community home where they help feed and clothe (you guessed it) homeless people.

He made these changes all on his own as we were both orphaned as children. Him by 14 and me by 10.

He won't live a long life as he already looks 60 plus, and he's only 52 but I cherish him each and everytime I see him. He's the only thing I have left out of my FOO!
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Unread 10-09-2012, 09:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: My father was a chronic alcoholic who drank himself to death.

Thank you for posting this, Serotonin.

My father passed away two weeks ago due to chronic alcoholism. During the last two weeks, I have found myself researching everything I can on alcoholism; how it affects the body, the family, the psyche, etc. Our family endured his battle with the disease for 10+ years, although I don't think we realized we were dealing with alcoholism until about 5-6 years ago, and then he hit "bottom" a year and a half ago. Like you, my dad was a sweet, funny, wonderful father when he was sober. When he was drunk, he became distant, moody, and unpredictable.

My mother stayed by his side until he breathed his last breath. She did everything for him. When he was forced into retirement, she dealt with it while working her Al-anon program. When I married 7 months ago, I wasn't sure I wanted my father involved in the ceremony because I was so worried about how he would function. It was my mother who encouraged me to have him there and I am grateful that I had the experience of having my dad walk me down the aisle and dance with me at the reception. That was the last time I saw my dad, and what a happy memory!

In the last weeks of his life, he lost his ability to walk and my dear mother changed his diapers, bought his liquor (at this point, the disease had taken such a hold of him, not drinking would have been just as fatal), and tried to get him to eat even when he wouldn't. She has been working her Al-anon program for about a year and I am amazed by her strength and commitment to her vows that she took 30 years ago. I think the worst thing about this whole situation is that we had hope that he would get better. Until that last moment, we had hope. It is so difficult to remember those happy times when someone is so deeply in the grips of this destructive disease. Alcoholism is most definitely a family disease. It affects everyone the person comes in contact with. I am struggling myself with the decision on whether to drink at all because of the fear that I will slip into the same habits that ended my father's life. I grieve the man that he was and curse the disease that took that wonderful man from my life. He will miss so much.

Thank you all for helping me realize that I am not alone in this. Peace be with each of you.
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Unread 04-03-2013, 07:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: My father was a chronic alcoholic who drank himself to death.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mo522 View Post
Thank you for posting this, Serotonin.

My father passed away two weeks ago due to chronic alcoholism. During the last two weeks, I have found myself researching everything I can on alcoholism; how it affects the body, the family, the psyche, etc. Our family endured his battle with the disease for 10+ years, although I don't think we realized we were dealing with alcoholism until about 5-6 years ago, and then he hit "bottom" a year and a half ago. Like you, my dad was a sweet, funny, wonderful father when he was sober. When he was drunk, he became distant, moody, and unpredictable.

My mother stayed by his side until he breathed his last breath. She did everything for him. When he was forced into retirement, she dealt with it while working her Al-anon program. When I married 7 months ago, I wasn't sure I wanted my father involved in the ceremony because I was so worried about how he would function. It was my mother who encouraged me to have him there and I am grateful that I had the experience of having my dad walk me down the aisle and dance with me at the reception. That was the last time I saw my dad, and what a happy memory!

In the last weeks of his life, he lost his ability to walk and my dear mother changed his diapers, bought his liquor (at this point, the disease had taken such a hold of him, not drinking would have been just as fatal), and tried to get him to eat even when he wouldn't. She has been working her Al-anon program for about a year and I am amazed by her strength and commitment to her vows that she took 30 years ago. I think the worst thing about this whole situation is that we had hope that he would get better. Until that last moment, we had hope. It is so difficult to remember those happy times when someone is so deeply in the grips of this destructive disease. Alcoholism is most definitely a family disease. It affects everyone the person comes in contact with. I am struggling myself with the decision on whether to drink at all because of the fear that I will slip into the same habits that ended my father's life. I grieve the man that he was and curse the disease that took that wonderful man from my life. He will miss so much.

Thank you all for helping me realize that I am not alone in this. Peace be with each of you.
Hi, I am so sorry for your loss.
You said you researched alcoholism and I'm trying to do the same. My father is drinking himself to death, he has liver disease, quite advanced but how far I'm not sure. I'm trying to help but its hard to get a clear picture.

He gets good days and then crashes and gets bad days, was this your experience? Could you share any knowledge?
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Unread 04-06-2013, 08:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: My father was a chronic alcoholic who drank himself to death.

Serotonin, thank you for sharing. Your story is similar to mine in many ways. My father died when I was 18 after many years of intense alcoholism. His death certificate says "chronic alcoholism," though my understanding is that my grandmother simply found him dead in his bed. My parents were also divorced (mom couldn't handle his drinking), but neither of them ever remarried, so dad would come around to the house every now and then -- and sometimes would even seem to be fairly sober, so it was confusing for me as a kid. I also am currently reading Kristberg's book, after having it on my bookcase for about 10 years. Reading that book inspired me to start posting here and stop drinking myself. I've now gone 10 days without a drink, which is the longest period I've gone without drinking in about five years!
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