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Father is a Substance Abuser and Alcoholic
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CissyB82 posted:
Hello Everyone,
I am reaching out tonight to find help/support for my father, my family and myself thru this tumultuous time.
My father who is 55 is suffering incredibly due to the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. I had only within the last 2 years become aware of the drug addiction. I was never exposed first hand to it when I was growing up thankfully. My father has been quite the alcoholic however since I can remember.
My family (to include: My husband and 2 young children) relocated to live with my parents for what was to be a temporary move until we got on our feet. However since living here in this house with both parents, a lot has come to light. I found (6) pot plants growing freely on my parents' property that I pulled and burned before my children saw them. I am a veteran Security Forces Member - so I take this type of action incredibly serious. Well to continue this long story, my father went to a 28 day rehab and had us all fooled. He came out "glorified" and gungho about this new lifestyle of his. Well that didn't last long. Within a few weeks, he turned to his old tricks again. Then when asked if he was stoned or drunk, he lied. Well my mother kicked him out of the house this past week for lying about the being high issue. He didn't have contact with any of us for (1) week. He called my mom this morning to ask to come home. She let him. He spoke to us adults this evening saying that he is going to ask us for support "finally" and help him thru this because he lived the life of a homeless person for a week and he doesn't want to go back. He has asked my mom to hold his money and credit cards and he does not want to leave the house unescorted any longer until he feels ready. I have almost lost all faith in any words my father says about how he feels and such. What approach do I take to this "new" dad?
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An_240941 responded:
Wow. I'm glad you didn't have to see all this until now as an adult & yet I'm sorry you're going through this at all. Both my parents are addicts, well "recovered addicts", so I grew up watching it & pretty much caring for myself. My husband is also a "recovered addict/ alcoholic/gambling addict" . So I have dealt with it a lot in other members of my family.

With my parents, well as an adult with children I never lived with them, so I told them they couldn't come around my kids unless they got sober. Eventually they moved to another state and got clean (especially hard for my mother who had been in & out of rehabs my whole life & even o.d.ed a few times, once sending her into a comma). A year later we moved about an 1hr &1/2 away from them and since then have had a great relationship. (mind you it's only been about 2 & 1/2 yrs of sobriety for them at this point) Any way, with them I came to the realization that they would only get clean if it was what they truly wanted & they would have to hit rock bottom 1st, but that I didn't have to suffer from it, I didn't have to enable them, & I didn't have to subject my kids to it.

With my husband, he had been clean from drugs for a long time before I even met him. He hide the extent of his gambling & drinking problems at 1st & when they all came to light we had already had one of our kids. After we moved (out of Las Vegas none the less) his gambling stopped (even though we live down the street from a river boat casino), but his drinking didn't. He started to try & hide it again, but I knew all his tricks at that point ( we have been together almost 5yrs now). Anyway I kicked him out & told him if he didn't stop drinking I wanted a divorce & I would ask the courts for him to only have supervised visitations with our girls. (he was a violent drunk). He sobered up that day & has been sober for 1yr now.

If you don't trust him, the you probably have good reason. Addicts are great liars. Sometimes it's necessary to "baby" someone with addiction issues, especially if rehab hasn't worked, but they seem to typically find ways around it....at least in my experiences. I'd give him a shot, but be cautious. I wouldn't give up on him just yet, but be careful not to become an enabler.
 
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Betty Ford Center
Johanna O'Flaherty, PhD responded:
The disease of addiction is chronic, progressive and fatal. From what you've described, your father appears to be struggling in the middle to late stages of addiction. His behavior, i.e. growing marijuana (pot) in his backyard despite the fact that his grandchildren are in the home, is certainly a 'red flag.' You mentioned that your father attended a 28-day rehabilitation program; did he follow up with his aftercare recommendation? Most include encouragement to attend 90 AA meetings in 90 days (90/90), getting a sponsor and working the Steps of AA.

I would also strongly recommend that you and your mother - in fact, all family members affected by your father's behavior — attend Al-Anon.

Turning his money and his responsibility over to your mother is a short-term solution that not only makes her a codependent but will most likely not work in the long run. He will need to learn how to manage his own affairs; with the help of a strong, 12 Step-based recovery program, he can acquire the skills to follow through.

Your first responsibility is to protect/ care for your children so be firm with your boundaries.

Again, I encourage your family to begin and maintain your own recovery through Al-Anon.
 
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An_240941 replied to Johanna O'Flaherty, PhD's response:
I went to Al-Anon for a long time due to my parents & my uncles drug abuse & the affects it had on me. I learned a lot from it. How to not be an enabler & that I can only control my own life & not theirs & how to get out from being a codependent. It helped me a lot. I gave my parents & my uncle boundaries & even at one point when it got too bad for me to deal with considering I had children to protect I decide to distance myself completely. It made my parents hit rock bottom & they now have been clean for 3yrs & have a great relationship with my kids & my husband & I have rebuilt my relationship with them as well. My uncle was a closet homosexual which was a big reason he was doing drugs to begin with. He struggled with a duel life. Eventually he came out, but was unfortunately shunned by a lot of his family which only made his drug abuse worsen. As much as I love him I can't be involved in his life. He is on meth & is violent & it isn't safe for my kids. Sad for me because I was close with him as a child & I was the first to discover he was gay & he trusted in me a lot. He knew that I was very involved in gay rights as a teen & young adult (& even now), although I'm not gay. I struggled for a while with the fact that he couldn't get sober even through in patient & out patient rehab...I was his family sponsor. I continued to go to the family meetings for his out patient rehab even after he stopped. He eventually was so ashamed of his drug use that he avoided me entirely. I think it hurt him to know he hurt me when I had been there for so long trying to help him cope with his homosexuality, his boyfriend leaving him, & his struggle with addiction. After I had my kids I decided I could never go back to being a part of his life (strictly due to his drug addiction). I hear about him every now & then from other family members & his life has spiraled even farther out of control. I know I made the right choice to distance myself from him, but I will always love him. Sometimes you have to make hard choices to stop enabling the ones you love (because it just hurts them more), & to heal yourself from being codependent, & to protect your own life. Hard lessons for me....especially because I dealt with drug use in my family my whole life. Most people are shocked when I tell them about my life & then tell them I have never touched a drug in my life & I don't drink. Anyway, the things I have gone through with addiction in my family has made being a part of helping people with substance abuse an extremely important thing for me. Now I'm studying to be a forensic psychologist. I want to be a mental health & forensic service program director while I work on obtaining my Ph.d .


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