Well, it can. It might be you, your spouse, or a family member. There is a great book of the same title of this post out there that I picked up not long ago. If you wonder about the role of genetics and being an adult child of an alcoholic or drug addict then pick this one up. Seeing the title again got me thinking about a couple of things that could benefit some people out there.
No one sets out to have a problem or an addiction.
When you are little and they ask you the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? I am pretty sure the answer isn’t: “I want to have serious dependency issues with drugs and alcohol”. When I married my husband there were no signs of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I don’t think I would have married him if the addiction was at the accelerated level that happened in just a 3 year period. I never thought this would be my life now. I think I truly believed it would never happen to me. Then his biological father passed away of alcoholism in 2006. I didn’t believe in the power of genetics until this moment. What I have found is that genetics are a strong force playing in the background and if you aren’t aware of it, it can be too late. I compare it to walking around with a match in your hand. All it takes is one spark and the fire is lit. And it is powerful and scary. If you have a genetic history of addiction my best recommendation is to abstain completely.
Don’t get mad at the family members before you that suffered from the addiction and have now affected how you have to live your life.
Or hope your relationship with alcohol will be healthy.
Or that your story will be different.
Be the change and break the cycle. For some, it will be their only hope.
It doesn’t happen over night
Alcohol/drug addiction can take years to really ramp up to a point of being out of control. The problem is most people are passed the threshold before they realize they are at that level. For some, the chemical changes in the body have already taken place without you even being aware of it. For example, tolerance. Do people call you a lightweight? If the answer is yes then be glad about it. It means you have a healthy relationship with it. That you do it so infrequently, it doesn’t take much to take effect. I remember being in college and even later into my twenties the goal was not to be a lightweight. You wanted to “hang” for a long time before passing out. I never realized the danger of this mindset. Tolerance is a clear sign that your body is changing and adapting…in a bad way. When you start to see yourself getting to a point that one or two drinks don’t have the same effect and that it takes 3 to 4, or 4 to 5 or 6 to 7, then really start to pull back and give yourself a test to see where you are. I say all of this because I want people to have some indicators so they can catch themselves before going over the cliff. Once you go over that cliff there is no turning back.
Here is a self test that you can give yourself if you want to know where you are on the scale.
-Do you drink because you are uncomfortable or shy around other people?
-Do you have a reputation as being “a drinker”?
-Do you frequently feel remorse after drinking because you said or did something embarrassing?
-If you drink frequently with a spouse/girlfriend or boyfriend do you find yourself getting into arguments often while drinking?
-Do you find your ambitions decreasing?
-Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?
-Do you want to drink the next morning to help with a hangover?
-Do you need to drink to go to sleep?
-Do you drink to escape from worries or troubles?
-Do you drink more than 2 times a week?
-Do you drink alone?
-Have you experienced more blackouts? (not remembering anything that happened after a certain point?)
-Does it take more for you to have the same “buzz” that you used to get after one or two drinks?
-Do you spend a lot of money on alcohol?
-Do you suffer from depression? (If you answer yes to this question and are on medication for depression then you MUST stop drinking immediately. The effects of mixing alcohol and antidepressants can be extremely serious: liver damage, blackouts, accelerated drinking. This is not to be taken lightly and extremely serious. I speak from experience on this one. There is a reason there is a warning on the bottle and it doesn’t matter how low the dose. Your body processes it the same.)
If you answered yes to more than 3 of these questions then it might be time to self evaluate the role that drinking plays in your life and if it is really worth it. I hate to see people going down the same road with no stop signs or warning signs. Just be honest with yourself whether this can happen to you. I have learned that it can happen to anyone at anytime and it doesn’t care about your career, your family, or who it hurts along the way. It controls you. You might believe you have control if you can lay off for a few days but give yourself more than a few days to really see if you have control. So here is the challenge: 28 days. This is how long it usually takes to chemically detox.
It’s not too late to change the cycle for another generation. My husband and I decided with our genetic history and the force with which it overtook our lives, that we needed drastic change. It is not worth including it in our lives for our daughter, son and generations to come. You CAN break the chain of addiction today. If you see yourself or someone you love in anything I have described in this post then don’t be ashamed or embarrassed by it. It takes a lot more courage to identify it in yourself, accept it and change it than it does to ignore it move on with your life.