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I'd like to start by just saying that addiction doesn't have a face. Anyone can fall victim to the disease. Yes, I said that it's a disease, and that's because it is. Addiction should be treated like a disease and should also be treated with respect. Addiction ruins not only the life of an addict, but also the lives of people around them as well. Too many precious lives have been taken by this horrible disease, and it needs to change. As someone that grew up with a parent struggling with addiction, it shaped how I look at the world around me. I'm going to touch on a very emotional subject, but I want to shed light on the topic too.
My mother's alcoholism slowly began to spiral downwards after she and my dad divorced each other. My parents were certainly the life of the party, and the party usually involved alcohol. My parents loved to drink socially with their good friends. After my parents started their process of divorcing each other, both struggled in their own way. My mom began having several glasses of wine during dinner, then it was after dinner, then it was in the afternoon. It definitely went unnoticed for some time before I started to intervene. My mom carries herself very well, so she still managed to go to work every day and come home and make dinner which is why it took me a while to realize what was happening.
I was around 12 or 13 when I really became bothered with my mom when she drank. Her demeanor changed and she slowly started losing her livelihood. One night a group of friends and I came over to my house to hang out. When we got to my house, we came across my mom passed out on the dining room table. I felt so embarrassed that my friends had to witness this ugly side of my mother. I was so angry I shook her to wake her up. I began shouting at her that she had a drinking problem. My mom was incoherent at this point so none of my words meant anything to her. This soon became an often occurrence. I can't tell you how many nights I would have to yank my mom off the couch to wake her up from her drunken state. I'd then help her get to her bed without stumbling too much. This soon became a nightly routine, and for a 14 year old experiencing puberty while aiding an alcoholic mother, I was exhausted to say the least.
Several years had gone by and my mother's health soon started to decline. It was obvious that years of drinking every day had taken a toll on her. It first started with her vomiting every day, several times a day. Fast forward a few years and her health became even worse, along with her drinking. I would find empty bottles of vodka and could smell it on her breath. Eventually her liver began to fail and her skin and eyes became a very unpleasant yellow color. It was very clear my mother had a drinking problem and many health problems related to the drinking.
I had hit my breaking point during the summer of 2018. My mother was very sick at this point, and I was sick of her being sick. I had become exhausted with seeing her so drunk to point of belligerency. I came to her house to surprise her one day, but came to find her passed out drunk on her backyard porch. I was so infuriated with her and had had enough. I gave her an ultimatum. I told her she either needed to get the treatment she needed, or I would never speak to her again. Now, I obviously did not mean this, but I had to give her the wake up call she needed. This is true for most addicts. They have to hit bottom before they can come back up, and it's heartbreaking to watch, but sometimes necessary.
I took her to the hospital that night and stayed with her for several hours while the doctors put her through detox. She begged me to take her home, promising she'd straighten up her act, but I knew that lie all too well. I had been lied to and deceived for an entire decade, and I couldn't be lied to any longer. Weeks went by and she was finally placed in an outpatient program, and things started to become normal again. My mom's skin color went from yellow to a normal tone, which I hadn't seen in quite some time. Of course, I still am weary some days, as she has not gained back my trust, and she most likely won't for a long time, but she appears to be recovering quite well.
It is 2019 and there are currently 40 million Americans that suffer from some sort of addiction whether it be substances, gambling, sex, etc. Addiction has had an impact on almost everyone, whether they themselves are an addict or they have known one. This is one global issue that should not go unnoticed. There are too many precious lives that have been taken by the monster that is addiction. There has to be something each and every one of us can do to help those that are suffering, including ourselves. Addiction can happen to anyone. It can happen to you, it can happen to me, it can happen to your loved ones. There is no single face or type of person that can struggle with addiction, it can plague any one of us. We have to be aware of the warning signs and do what we can to support those who are battling with addiction. It's easier to get upset and show disappointment, but that only makes the issue worse. We must approach this subject with compassion, seriousness, and most of all, patience. Battling addiction is exactly that, a battle that doesn't end magically. Some addicts take years before seeking treatment and that's okay because they have to want to get help before receiving it. Relapse is also part of recovery. Some people have many relapses, some have none. The point I'm trying to make is that this disease should be taken more seriously before we lose more beautiful souls.