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How Alcohol Changed My Life

My sisters and I have an ongoing text, literally, (in my best valley girl accent), we text each other every day. Our ongoing conversations run the gamut, they are witty, fun, deep, dark, and superficial. In the length of one conversation, we can be discussing what flooring Roxy should choose for her kitchen, which is excitedly under construction. While Dawn might be sharing photos of her new grandbaby, her first! At the same time, Allyson shares witty one-liners about the world as we know it today, and well, I am usually adding to the conversation in my favorite way, which is through gifs. You should try it, we have actually argued politics through gifs and if there is ever a way to be simultaneously pissed and still laugh, gifs are the answer! I love that we do this, it keeps us connected in a world where it is so easy to disconnect from overstimulation. In fact, this very morning, I woke up and found that I had missed 87 texts. Yes, I go to bed insanely early because my dogs are (loveable) jerks and wake me at 4 am. But, 87 texts? Although I do believe that Dawn holds the record for waking up to miss texts, she woke one morning to more than 120.

But I digress, back to our latest conversation where we were discussing a “sister trip”. Of course, one wanted a beach, another the mountains -for me, I wanted Magnolia in Texas (Dawn was all in). While trying to entice the rest to come, I elicited activities outside of just visiting Magnolia such as horseback riding, scenic ventures, and wine tasting at area vineyards. Allyson who is always ready with something clever responded, “what’s hilarious is if we go to a winery, I would be the only one drinking – that sounds fun”. Of course, that comment came along with a girl drinking a glass of wine and rolling her eyes.

I laughed but it caught me off guard for a minute as I thought about how much alcohol has played a role and continues to play a role within our family. It got me curious and so, I decided to look up some general information about alcohol(ism). I was surprised as I perused through various articles and blogs about the difficult relationship that many have with alcohol; either its overuse or simply, the lifestyle complications it often presents.

If you have followed this blog at all, you may know that alcoholism is a problem that ran deep within our family, specifically on my mothers’ side. Even more specifically, her father -my maternal grandfather, and then, of course, our mother. I have always been afraid of this dreadful skeleton that has always lurked at the back of my proverbial closet. I am sure that my grandfather and mother never intended to become alcoholics. I mean, no child declares that when I grow up I want to be an alcoholic. Yet, the prevalence of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD) within the United States is staggering, with 14.5 million people suffering from AUD as indicated by a 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). According to the Cleveland Clinic, alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder as it is termed today, is defined as a medical condition where an individual has the inability to control alcohol consumption. This is often punctuated by an unhealthy relationship with alcohol that often results in negative or devastating consequences.

What are some common causes of alcoholism, or AUD?

I believe that my siblings and I have made both conscious and subconscious decisions to limit our access to alcohol and its use. We were witness to the insidious accession of alcohol into the fiber of our family and watched helplessly as it deteriorated our fragile framework. Alcohol does not just lay bare the weakness of one person instead its dehiscence is whole and encapsulates not one but many. Alcohol has become synonymous with our culture as there is rarely an event where alcohol is not involved. Drinking alcohol often helps people feel more relaxed which leads to (false) feelings of happiness. In general, alcohol helps people who struggle with anxiety feel less anxious so social events become less stressful when they drink. Overall, drinking enhances experiences but this can be harmful as this often leads to excesses with alcohol consumption. 

You can see how alcohol could quickly become problematic for an individual, much as it did for our family. My mother drank to deal with her many demons, many that were listed above and more, however, one drink would never be enough for her, so born was an alcoholic. Again, no one ever thinks that they are gonna grow up and become an alcoholic; it sneaks up on you much like an animal, now whether that animal is a cuddly koala or a grizzly makes all the difference in the world.

And therein lies our legacy and the reason that we often choose to not drink. And no, Ally drinking at the winery alone is not because she is a wino -she has just always been able to drink alcohol, or leave it.

On a serious note, as I was listening to MPR the other day I heard about a young woman in her 20s who was driving after drinking and hit two siblings, killing one and injuring the other while they had been walking along a road. The horror for the remaining sibling as she cradled her dying brother is unimaginable and now his family must figure out how to live without him. And now the nightmare truly begins for the young woman who made a very fateful “mistake”. Many lives were ruined.


How To Help An Alcoholic.

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