HELLO, my name is Greg and I am an alcoholic.
I have said this statement in many meetings that I attend to address a problem I face daily. I am thankful I have not hit rock bottom as many of “Bill’s friends” are prone to do, but there are still incidents that I regret. I am not a violent drunk, and I do not bring domestic violence into our home. The problem I do face is the fact that I become absolutely useless after certain days of over imbibing. As a result, my children are affected by a certain degree of neglect. I am unable to help them with their school work, cook food or play games with them. They are not alone.
This week (Feb. 14-20, 2016) is National Children of Alcoholics Awareness Week. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides the following facts about Children of Alcoholics and the risks they face:
• More than 6 million children live with at least one parent who abuses or is dependent on alcohol or an illicit drug
• Alcoholism tends to run in families. Children of alcoholics or COAs are four times more likely than non-COAs to develop alcoholism or drug problems.
• COAs are at higher risk than others for depression, anxiety disorders, problems with cognitive and verbal skills, and parental abuse or neglect. They are significantly more likely than other children to be abused or neglected by their parents or guardians and are more likely to enter foster care.
• Research shows that a combination of factors account for the increased alcohol abuse risks for COAs, including the following: possible inherited genetic vulnerability to addiction; poor family communication; poor role modeling; and the stresses of living in a family lacking stability, predictability, and clearly defined, appropriate, and consistent roles for all family members.
• The most important message for COAs is that they are not responsible for the problems of adults in their homes and that their own lives can be different and better than the lives of their alcohol-abusing parents/ guardians. They also need to know help is available for them and how to get it.
I am thankful that I have a loving and caring spouse who helps support me when I am in need and to take up the slack in providing for our children. As I move forward “One day at a time,” I ask parents who also have problems with alcohol to spend time with their children and seek treatment in your time of need. If you are a child of an alcoholic, talk to your parents about their problem and how it affects you-my own children have no problem telling me what they think.
Additionally, with the integration of services relating to substance abuse prevention/treatment and mental health in the federal government creating Behavioral Health services, there are protections afforded to individuals actively seeking treatment for their addictions through federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA.
For information on how you or a loved one can reduce drinking, please contact the Community Guidance Center-Addiction Services at 323-6560, and for more on protections under laws like the ADA contact the PAIMI program through NMPASI at 235-7273/4 or visit us online at nmpasi.org/.