It all started before my dad, I'm quite sure, as all his siblings had addictions. I was 14 when I first became involved with my Dad's addiction. Alcohol. My mother left him for another man, and Jack Daniel's became his "lover". It started when he had to move out. Every weekend that he didn't have his children, he had a barstool in the local tap. On those weekends, I was called by the bartender to get him out of there, as he would get out of control when they tried to shut him off. I would call a cab and I would go with them to pick up my Dad, as he never argued with me. I would then stay with him, as he tried to sleep, weeping, how he didn't want to live without his wife and kids. This went on until I was 16, and then I could drive. Still, I was the one that was called, only now it would be the police, that my Dad was basically trying to killing himself by alcohol poisoning. They would be called by motels, that a man had checked in 3 days before and had a "Do not Disturb" sign on the door and had never come out. Sure enough he was pretty much in a coma. I had to make a decision, either let them arrest him and put him in a jail cell to detox on his own, or I could have him committed to a sanitarium, where they also had an addiction ward. At 16, I didn't have a place to keep him, jail wasn't an option as far as I was concerned, and so I did the latter. This would be a 3 month program, and nobody could see or speak to their loved ones for two weeks. I will never forget the words my Dad said to me, as they took him through those doors...."I hate you and I will never forgive you". Yes, he was drunk, but I was his 16 year old daughter who just wanted my Dad to get better. And I'm sure I don't have to tell you how much that hurt. And then to hurt me even more, when I came to see him after the two weeks time was up, ( I just knew he would be happy to see me), he told them to tell me to go away and not come back. I was no longer his daughter. What??? He was sober by now. No way my father would say something like that. I knew he loved me. You can't even imagine the hurt, pain and tears that I shed. Six months later he showed up at my mom's house, asking to see me. The first thing he did was tell me how sorry he was and how much he appreciated the decision that changed his life. He started AA meetings right away. Only he found a different place for every day of the week. And a month later, he asked me to go with him. I found out that children of addicts can also have a addictions. This disease can be hereditary. Only it doesn't have to be a drug or alcohol. It can be many things. Addiction is addiction, period. For the next 12 years, my Dad traveled all over the United States as a Spokesman for AA. And he told "our story". How a sixteen year old should not have had to make that decision and then how that decision and the pain he saw on my face changed his life forever. He died when I was thirty 33, a sober man. A man with dignity and love for all mankind. A man, who instead of pining over the love of his life, my Mom, helped others to change their paths.
Some people are born addicts and some become addicts for so many different reasons. It really doesn't matter. What matters is having programs to help them and counselors to teach them the tools of finding their own reasons to stop. As most of us know, no matter how we try to help someone who has an addiction, they have to make the choice. However, what we can do is never give up hope on them and never quit loving them. The biggest takeaway I have is giving them "tough love". That means.... don't enable them. No matter what.