Addiction takes away control of the future

Reilly Scobey, Assignments Editor

I remember groaning internally when my sophomore English teacher announced the book we would be reading in class was “The Glass Castle”. Having read the book before, I knew it would bring up some interesting discussion amongst my class, but I could have never imagined the severity of their comments. Sentiments like “Addicts only care about themselves” and “Why don’t they just quit” were expressed repeatedly throughout the quarter. While comments like these seem innocent they are extremely offensive to addicts and their family. In their defense how could they have known there was a daughter of an addict amongst them. The daughter? Me. The addict? My dad. 

Growing up, my dad was my best friend. We did everything together and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Even after my parents split, I was still drawn to my dad. Sure, me and my mom were close, but I have always felt a deep rooted connection to him. I didn’t know why I felt so connected to my dad until I was 14. When my mom finally opened up about a man I didn’t recognize as my father. For the first five years of my life my dad was an alcoholic. Being so young, I don’t have memories of him like this which is a good thing. But, I also don’t really have many memories of him at all because of this. He was present in my life, but he wasn’t really ever there. He spent a lot of his time passed out or contemplating his next drink, but this part of my life doesn’t really change my opinion on my father. Even though times were hard, I knew he still loved and cared for me. He just needed to get over this hurdle. 

Within a few months of their split my father checked himself into rehab. I don’t remember anything from this time, but I can confidently say this decision has impacted the last twelve years of my life. If my dad didn’t enter recovery I fear we wouldn’t have the relationship we have today. I know his story isn’t uncommon, but his recovery is quite the opposite. About 15 million Americans are currently struggling with alcoholism, but only 18 percent of alcoholics are able to abstain from drinking for a year. This year my dad is celebrating 12 years of sobriety. This is considered a miracle, but his doesn’t have to be one of the few. If we could open our eyes and try to better understand the people who suffer, maybe my dad wouldn’t be one of the few. 

Biological Factors weren’t considered a huge defining factor in an addict until recently. Scientists estimate a person’s genetics account for 40-60 percent of their risk of substance use disorder. These individuals carry a mix of gene variations that influence their ability to develop an addiction. One of those individuals is me. 

Statistics like these are what keep me up at night. Never before did I think my father’s disease would define my future. To me, this is the hardest part of being the child of an addict. Not having control over you’re own future is terrifying. My entire life I have felt trapped behind statistics, never knowing if I’ll beat the odds. I have spent almost the entirety of my teenage years constantly fearing the person I might become. While everyone else my age is going out to parties and doing “normal” teenage things, I am sitting at home fearing my own shadow. Constantly worrying about something I can’t control because of the overwhelming fear of becoming someone I am ashamed of. I don’t really understand where my thought process has come from considering I would never look at my father the way I look at myself. But then again, addiction wouldn’t be as powerful if it didn’t try to tear you to the ground. 

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous defines addiction as a “threefold illness: a physical allergy, a mental obsession, and a spiritual malady.” This is the definition of addiction I choose to apply to my own life. Although I am not an addict, I too have found comfort in AA’s 12 steps. While I don’t practice everything my father does, this book has provided me with comfort. Knowing I am incharge of the outcome of my own life has become a crucial part of my own healing and growth. No longer will I spend my entire life being afraid of something I cannot control. No longer will I let addiction define my life story. I am my own person, not my father. While I applaud him for his own success, I will no longer sit by and assume I will have to do the same thing. I am more powerful than a potential disease.