BY: Andrea Itza garduno franco
I remember my uncle saying he was fine, and that he can stop drinking at any time. Three months later and he still didn’t. I could hear my auntie on the phone crying because my uncle had not shown up to work the whole day. He was deemed unsavable by the family the moment he was driven to Mexico to be turned into a rehab. He died on the car ride over there. It all happened within one night, so the news was almost unbelievable. He had lost the battle many still struggle with to this day. The battle that does not disappear when the fighter dies but rolls onto to its next victim enlisting them forcefully. Attending my uncle’s funeral, my cousin says as he hugs me.
“You have grown so much, how old are you?”
“I guess I have, I am 15. How old are you?” I replied with a smile on my face.
“I’m 19, close to 20 in a month, yeah. One more year so that I can legally drink.” He said with a smirk and a jokish tone of voice.
When he said that I wasn’t sure how to respond so I replied with only a giggle. I found it insensitive and just unbelievable that he would say such a thing. I came to the realization that my cousin was slowly falling into that deadly cycle. It was as if he was already filling out the paperwork to his enrollment into the never ending battle. He was the oldest of my uncle’s kids. My cousin has such a kind heart, and was always so welcoming to everyone regardless of the situation. I think, how can someone like my cousin, who is so kind and strong, succumb to such a cruel thing? As I thought that, I realized my uncle was the same. He was the same warmhearted person as his son. Alcoholism seems to take only the good people who do not deserve to fall to such disease and addiction. Growing up and maturing made me realize, alcohol is much bigger than just some addiction. It is a virus constantly seeping into people, and some manage to overcome it, but others like my uncle are unable to and later fall into this deep deep hole. A hole filled with millions of bodies who were unable to fill it as well.
Studies have shown that one of the most significant influences on an individual’s substance abuse is the environment. Environment being their family upbringing, or the people around them. It starts off with one person in the family, but then it germinates onto the next. Research done by the American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) shows that one in every five adult Americans have lived with someone with alcohol abuse in their adolescence. And because of this statistic it raises the chances of the one American in the group of five to have more emotional troubles. The AACAP also states that children with parents who abuse alcohol are four times more likely to abuse alcohol themselves. The AACAP has also said that children of those who abuse alcohol are unable to realize that because of the alcohol their parents act differently, so this leads them to feel guilt, self-blame, and even anger towards themselves.
Given the factual evidence of direct family being affected by those who abuse alcohol around them, makes me realize that maybe this whole time my cousin could have felt that his love for his father was not enough for him to stop drinking. He felt as if he himself was a factor for his father’s excessive drinking. I remember when I found out that my uncle had been drinking too much, and thought that if enough people from the family had talked to him, he would stop. It didn’t work that way, and I didn’t know until now. I thought, if this doesn’t work then what would? Alcoholism doesn’t give the person a choice whether to stop or not. And in this case my uncle didn’t have the will to stop simply because his family told him to.
One thing I wish I knew sooner was that when your close one drinks, it is not because they love you any less. It is as if the factors you think determine the severity of their drinking is no longer the real reason, but the alcohol looks beyond that. It comes down to the biological side of things. So know that when your loved one drinks, you provide comfort and the right resources so that they are able to beat that viscous disease, and that you are able to break through that cycle.