Post
Experience Project iOS Android Apps | Download EP for your Mobile Device

A Long Line of Alcoholics

My family history, more than anything, convinces me that genetics has a strong influence on what we do in life. It doesn't preordain our path, but it may make it much harder to choose a different path.

My father's father and grandparents were alcoholics. My father started drinking at a very young age, he joined the military at age 17. The military of the 60's and 70's did nothing to dissuade their members use of alcohol. My father's favorite haunt was the Chief Petty Officer's Club, a bar.

Most of his 21 year military career he was a "functioning" alcoholic. He went to work, did his job, but spent many of his days off drinking non-stop, especially the last 5 years of his career.

Both my paternal and maternal grandfathers were alcoholics who had stopped drinking by the time I was born. I grew up thinking that my dad would be reaching whatever point they had reached, and would be quitting...he never did. He was 54 when he died from the effects of drinking.

Except for a couple of years as a teenager partying with friends, I have steered clear of doing much drinking. I have never kept alcohol around the house, because I know my family has the alcoholic gene.

I have 22 and 24 year old sons, I have educated them about our family history and the dangers of someone with our gene pool drinking. They both drink on occasion, but I am keeping my fingers crossed and my eyes open, that it doesn't get out of control.

I use to hate when my parents would go out for dinner and leave us with a sitter, because 9 times out of 10, they would come home fighting with one or both of them being inebriated.

I moved out of my parent's home before I turned 18, I am now 46 years old. They divorced a year later. I forgave my dad a long time ago for the effects his drinking had on our family. I never used my childhood experiences as an excuse to whine or curl up in a corner, but I know there are plenty of people who had more traumatic experiences than I did.

My advice to anyone with alcoholism in the family is to avoid drugs and alcohol as much as possible and be ever vigilant about your behavior patterns.
WittyOne WittyOne 46-50, F 31 Responses May 24, 2007

Your Response

Cancel

Both of my grandfathers we're alcoholics & both of my parents we're alcoholics & intravenous drug users & still drink & do drugs now in their 50's. I have never done drugs of any kind & don't feel the need or want to drink...I also refuse to have anything to do with my parents. I don't believe for one minute that it's genetic, it's a choice or people are arrogant & fall for the "drug/alcoholism will never happen to me" . I think people use "genetics" as an excuse for their behavior.

There is scientific evidence that alcoholism has genetic components and alcoholism is not a behavior issue, it is an illness and refusing to deal with the problem of your parents and grandparents is denial in my view and it doesn't solve anything it only embitters your heart and soul. Your reaction to their disease is that you have broken the cycle for next generations to come.

Hi jiggstrixie92. Yes the book is excellent. It really hits the heart of the deep seated turmoil I go through on a regular basis. The book is very helpful in that what we feel there is a reason for it. I still on occasions pick up the book and open it up on a random page. No matter where I start reading Ill always find an answer. I still have have many traits/characteristics - but whats great about it I have been able with this book to identify these characteristics and understand each of them. Its still on going. The healing takes time. It was here on EP where I first heard about the book. Good like with your healing.

There is an excellent book that will help any child of alcoholics...called Adult Childern of Alcoholics at Home, at Work and in Love; the Complete ACOA Sourcebook by Janet Geringer Woititz. It is an easy read. Within its pages you will discover why you now behave as you do, why you think as you do, and how to heal & begin a new life. It is a great book! It really helped me, and I know it will help everyone who is the product of alcoholic parents.

I started drinking at the age of 21....am an alcoholic..I was not raised around drinking..my parents were social drinkers, whenever they drank..which was rare...I believe it skips generations..my grandmother, great grand father and other relatives of that generation were probably alcoholics..which was never admitted and a secret...alos..my parents were Adult children of alcoholics...I was raised to never express your feelings..etc.,etc..I believe alcoholism is Genetic.....I thank God for A.A.,Alanon and adult children of alcoholic meetings.......I hope I can break the cycle with my children and grandchildren and soon to be great grandchild..P>S.Am sober 6 yrs. in A.A.....God helped me, when I could not help myself......

I grew up having my dad drunk everyday most days... Sure there were times when he was sober but those were few in the early days. He died last month and for the last 25 years I had not had much of a relationship with him. I went to his home to take care of him we were told he had six months we lost him three weeks after he was told about his cancer. I spent my whole life trying to get over what he had did to us when he would drink. I also spent my whole life running from those problems. I don't drink my two girls have been educated to not drink and I married a man who knows how to not over drink. I think as a kid I could not choose what happen to me but as an adult I can darn sure make my life a happy one.... Funny thing was dad was such a good person when he was not drinking it was hard not to forgive him each time he beat us. I guess that is not funny but sick in a way. I love my dad and had a good visit with him the week before he passed I know he was sorry but the past can not be changed. Just wish I would have had a childhood. some people just don't know how blessed they are to have parents that are there for them. so many of the kids I teach today don't have that .

My great grandfather was a mean drunk; my grandfather, I am told, was a mean drunk, though I never actually saw him take a drink during my lifetime; my father was definately one mean drunk; and, my ex-girlfriend tells me that I get mean when I drink. I stopped drinking 1.5 years ago and I rarely drank even before then. I do not believe that I have a gene for drinking. I began drinking in order to cope and not have a nervous breakdown because I had to deal some way or another with an alcoholic father...

I don't mean to imply that just because you may have the addition gene in your family that you will become an addict, nor do I feel it should be used as an excuse for becoming an addict. We are free to make choices.<br />
I do feel if you have the addict gene, you need to be even more diligent than the average person because you are more likely to become an addict if you are not diligent about your behaviour and your choices.<br />
<br />
I do not think my father struggled with depression, in fact I never saw any signs of true depression. Would he be blue once in awhile, sure, but those times were infrequent and did not last more than 24 hours.

Alcoholism & depression run in my family too. They absolutely are a genetic thing! I'm completely tee-total because of it. I won't drink at all however i do suffer from depression but have dealt with it so everything's fine now.<br />
<br />
Alcohol destroys lives & families. I'm so happy to just steer clear of it.

Hi there -<br />
<br />
Don't agree that 'alcoholism' is ''genetic', ot that it is a disease at at all. Definitely a problem, my father couldn't take a drink without ending up - months down the line - in hospital, getting dried out.<br />
<br />
But the problem is depression. Once heard the fine psychiatrist Raj Persaud refer to "self-medication for depression through alcohol." I have certainly had problems with depression, but none whatsoever with alcohol.<br />
<br />
I do know a lot of people who don't want to accept the above analysis, and bang on about their "physical" alcoholism condition. But I am afraid they are avoiding facing the truth. Anyhow, as 1 in 5 will suffer from a clinical mental health condition at some time, I don't understand the prejudice ?<br />
<br />
T.C.

Yup, killer attitude :) Thanks for sharing and I certainly can relate!

loveualways - I am not trying to put down your beliefs, but in my experience mostly nutritional, healthy satisfying natural foods, herbs, sea vegetables & honey are not going to cure an addiction or even prevent one.<br />
I will be the first to admit that my eating habits are atrocious. I don't like vegetables and I eat a lot of red meat, but I am NOT an addict. I made a conscious decision a long time ago not to go down the family "path", this included not being co-dependent or an enabler. I haven't always been successful, but more times than not I have.

My Dad worked hard 6 days a week & took us to the beach on his day off. But every work night he was drunk & got home very late.<br />
Now I believe that addictions are mostly nutritional, healthy satisfying natural foods, herbs, sea vegetables & honey help to satisfy the brain & body so a person does not wish to be extremely addicted to life destroying habits.<br />
I did read where a man was destroying his life through alcohol, but his friend stayed with him for 1-2 days giving him a spoonful of honey every hour. This seemed to eliminate his craving for alcohol & he proceeded to have a happy life! <br />
I just love these natural healing stories!<br />
I do love Hypericum as it seems to make stress, trauma & depression just float away! As people can drink to 'drown their sorrows'<br />
I also believe in the wonderful healing benefits of Homeopathy, Indian & Chinese Herbs, Acupuncture, Gem Water, Colloidal Silver, Olive leaf tea, Bio - Chemic Cell Salts, Bush Flowers, Kelp etc<br />
For the trauma of my Dad being addicted to beer, I have used Hypericum, a yeast free diet, Thought Field Therapy & Genius Brain Power. And the most wonderful pick-me-up is ribena with chia seed & barley grass. I can now accept & understand the situation.

I look with awe at the encouraging comments made by fellow EPians. Both my parents went on regular binges for about 10 years. It was an unfortunate experience and very dark time in my life especially at a time when you become a young adult. Alcohol was always the order of the day. Abusive and violent outbursts and helplessly watching your mother get beaten up by your own father. I was so scared. I had no relationship with either parent’s. My father was a stranger to me. I was unable to utter a word to him when I was alone in the same room - I was petrified. As I got older (30's) they STOPPED. But it’s still very hard because I cannot help but think of the past and how it hindered and stunted me. I and my older brother (now a recovering alcoholic and in regular therapy sessions) have become products of that violence and abuse. I was a mere shell of a person. I had no thoughts, no ideas and no spirit. I had failed hopelessly in relationships and found myself intolerant, verbally abusive, violent and hateful. Now I’m forty. I have seen the light with the help of a wonderful man I met 9 years ago. He has stuck with me through all the outbursts, the verbal abuse and comforted me on those very dark and dull days. He is my rock. I've been very very lucky.

I look with awe at the encouraging comments made by fellow EPians. Both my parents went on regular binges for about 10 years. It was an unfortunate experience and very dark time in my life especially at a time when you become a young adult. Alcohol was always the order of the day. Abusive and violent outbursts and helplessly watching your mother get beaten up by your own father. I was so scared. I had no relationship with either parent’s. My father was a stranger to me. I was unable to utter a word to him when I was alone in the same room - I was petrified. As I got older (30's) they STOPPED. But it’s still very hard because I cannot help but think of the past and how it hindered and stunted me. I and my older brother (now a recovering alcoholic and in regular therapy sessions) have become products of that violence and abuse. I was a mere shell of a person. I had no thoughts, no ideas and no spirit. I had failed hopelessly in relationships and found myself intolerant, verbally abusive, violent and hateful. Now I’m forty. I have seen the light with the help of a wonderful man I met 9 years ago. He has stuck with me through all the outbursts, the verbal abuse and comforted me on those very dark and dull days. He is my rock. I've been very very lucky.

I look with awe at the encouraging comments made by fellow EPians. Both my parents went on regular binges for about 10 years. It was an unfortunate experience and very dark time in my life especially at a time when you become a young adult. Alcohol was always the order of the day. Abusive and violent outbursts and helplessly watching your mother get beaten up by your own father. I was so scared. I had no relationship with either parent’s. My father was a stranger to me. I was unable to utter a word to him when I was alone in the same room - I was petrified. As I got older (30's) they STOPPED. But it’s still very hard because I cannot help but think of the past and how it hindered and stunted me. I and my older brother (now a recovering alcoholic and in regular therapy sessions) have become products of that violence and abuse. I was a mere shell of a person. I had no thoughts, no ideas and no spirit. I had failed hopelessly in relationships and found myself intolerant, verbally abusive, violent and hateful. Now I’m forty. I have seen the light with the help of a wonderful man I met 9 years ago. He has stuck with me through all the outbursts, the verbal abuse and comforted me on those very dark and dull days. He is my rock. I've been very very lucky.

sorry I forgot to mention the genetics x_X. On my mom's side her father was an alcoholic, and his family situation is vertually unknown so his parents could of been. Two of her sisters are alcoholics (3/4 kids). On my dads side, my grandmother's parent (not sure which one) was an alcoholic, and her brother and sister were both alcoholics (her brother died of liver cirrohsis, her sister is still alive). My dad drinks not a lot, but when he wants and doesn't have a problem with it even though it is constantly in the house, so he obviously got his dad's genes. My grandma made the decision never to drink and I am making the same. Not only do I have a liver disease and it would most definately physically kill me, but I don't want to put myself in my moms position or my future family inmy current position.

I am sixteen and my mom is an alcoholic. My whole life she has had an addiction, but stopped drinking when I was two because I was diagnosed with a chronic liver disease. Living with a serious, chronic illness as well as an alcoholic mother has made me grow up so fast, and I am so proud of the humps I have overcome. I remember in fourth grade she was so drunk and hysterically sobbing downstairs that she woke me up from my slumber. I went downstairs and she kept saying how she was going to commit suicide. It took hours of finally dragging her upstairs to her bed, nurturing telling her it was gonna be okay and so forth. I remember that night I shook and it sent me in a spiraling depression out of fear. There has been multiple times where she has threatened to commit suicide and it's so scary. This year she took a bottle of pills, and was rushed to the hospital. Story short, Massachusetts has this law that she can't be admitted without her consent, and she didn't seem "bad" enough to be admitted involuntarily. I despise that law, because all of the support I have gave/offered to give hasn't worked, and her alcoholism just keeps getting worse. I have realized it is out of my control and she will only be helped if she helps herself, but she told me she isn't ready to stop drinking. <br />
<br />
Next year I will be a junior in high school. I will be applying to college and I am so confused as to what I should do. I know as soon as I am gone, my dad and her are done legally, not just emotionally, but I feel like I should watch over her. I am so happy right now and every negative thing in my life has definately given me super thick skin and I am so thankful. I have such a hard time talking to my friends about this stuff though, and I have overcome a lot on my own but I want to hear another voice so if anyone could give me advice/want to talk/receive advice please message me.

I am a strong believer in environmental influence over genetics. Although I do not completely throw out the effects of genetics I am a prime example of environmental influence. I am the baby of 6 children. Both of my parents were alcoholics. All 5 of my siblings are alcoholics. What spared me is the fact that I was taken away from my parents when I was 7 and placed in a home that adopted me and was the complete opposite of my prior living environment. I am the only one that completed high school and went on to college. 2 of my other siblings were also placed in foster homes but they experience neglect and abuse. After not seeing them for 20 years and reconnecting with them they were all thrilled to see the way that I had turned out.

zinco - I understand where you are coming from, I am not easily offended, when you grow up with an insecure alcoholic with serious self-esteem issues who belittles you frequently, you develop a tough shell.<br />
<br />
I was not making light of what anyone who loves an alcoholic or is raised by one goes through. I was expressing an honest attitude of gratitude. I always had a roof over my head, food to eat and there was no sexual molestation involved. Even bigger than that was I was able to realize my father was sick, he came from a sick family and he didn't have the strength or conviction to make real changes.<br />
<br />
I grew up very independent and very rarely have I found myself in the role of an enabler. As an adult I was able to tell my father bluntly, "You are an alcoholic so stop b.s. us and yourself because it is going to kill you and I am tired of hearing your lame excuses."<br />
<br />
My dad was very blunt too. In the end, almost the very end, I sensed some real regret from him.<br />
<br />
I think the main message I wanted to convey is that no matter what situation you grow up in, it does not dictate your future! Sure, you may have more of a struggle because of your past, but we decide our future, we decide our responses to outside events.<br />
<br />
A THING IS BAD, ONLY IF YOU CALL IT BAD! Everything is relative.

that was a really beautiful story and one I can definitely relate to. Thank you for sharing.<br />
The only thing that bothers me in your story is when you said that part about other people had much more traumatic lives. so you never used that to complain. I spent a lifetime telling myself that and not realizing the damage it did to me until I finally saw a psychologist and told her that. She asked me when my youngest memory of my parent drinking was, and I said, about 10 or younger. She asked me, would you tell a 10 yo that others have it worse, so don't complain because your parent is an alcoholic?<br />
Of course the answer was no. So why had I told myself all these years that it wasn't so bad? The truth is, those of us who are children of alcoholics suffer terribly, and most of us in silence. <br />
I am saying this, not because I want you to use it as an excuse, because I want you to know that you have to tell that child in you that it was okay to cry, okay to feel cheated etc....and that we are now adults and have a choice but as children, we suffered.<br />
Please don't think of this as a criticism, I suffer right along with you. I even have court documents from the 1850's that prove I come from a long line of alcoholics!!!!I am so glad you chose another path for your children. <br />
Thanks again for this, it really helped me to know I'm not alone.

I can’t make any formula about “alcohol with good life”, it’s a very crucial subject for whole over the world (a slow poison which can take to you slowly from a yard to graveyard) “Alcohol” should ban, if necessary you please use alcohol at your own place or unrestricted area but in limit. I hope people will take precaution about alcohol.<br />
Charles<br />
<br />
Alcoholism Information

emmie3- it is a hard road to hoe, but remember you had noting to do with your parents choices.<br />
You are an individual who can create her own reality and future, don't enable your parents, don't drop everything because drinking has caused them some trouble they need help out of.<br />
They need to deal with the consequences of their actions and you need to live a happy and fulfilling life. You will only find this within yourself, do look for or expect outside confirmation.<br />
<br />
You can do it. Hugs

It is always reassuring to hear of people who have overcome adversity such as yourself, and I hope that one day I can look back and will have put my traumatic childhood behind me (both my parents are alcoholics). I know this has affected me greatly when it comes to relationships as I never learned to interact in a healthy way, but I am so determined to try my best to make the most of what I have and get past my issues. You are an inspiration and thankyou for your story.

my uncle was an alcoholic and my son is.

Thanks for that tinlizzie!

Continue to be proud of your adherance to basic rules you have set for yourself. I was involved with alcoholism as an adult and later married an alcoholic who has since, passed away. I joined Al-Anon in 1994 & let me say that it was my saving grace. I dealt with the alcoholism poorly before Al-Anon, but s l o w l y learned to 'let it go' because I didn't cause it, couldn't cure it and certainly couldn't control it. My step kids both hold responsible jobs and are in their 30's now, but one of them also does have serious problems when they drink (blackouts etc). Be proud of yourself also, that you have taken the time to discuss with and work with your children in this regard. However, please do not ever blame yourself if one of them does fall by the wayside. It will not be your fault. I also know a fair amount of people who attend AA and they are just the greatest. Don't fret, you've done what you can and now you should relax.

About the inherited and learned issue, i wish to say these words:<br />
I am a from Indian religions fold and we have a concept of endless circle of births and death up till the point consciousness realises its own true nature. The circle is sustained by a momentum which in my understanding is the karmic momentum. And as regards the genetics, we explain this by the analogy of 'birds of similar feathers, flock together'. <br />
Coming to the main point i think its only the affected person who truly knows how strong or weak the karmic momentum is and how easy or difficult it is counter it. People who do not have deeper understanding of life and who do not have an empathetic attitude towards it often have a superficial outlook towards these things.<br />
<br />
<br />
There are many theories of learning given by modern science. I think human intelligence and living consciousness cannot be discounted and has to be taken into account before accepting any theory. Most of the early theories were based on concept attained from animal behaviours. Though later on vygotsky and social cognition and such like theories are quite convincing.

Thank you for that comment bitlord.<br />
To TCBB & Trikka, I don't think that just because one has the genetic predisposition for certain behavior or addiction, does it mean one is condemned to this behavior or addiction. It is helpful to be aware of one's genetics, and to steer clear of that behavior.<br />
<br />
I have shared the information about our family genetics with my 3 sons in the sincere hope that they do not go the way of their grandparents and great grandparents.

IMO it's a learned behavior,more than an actual genetic thing,now genetics could play a role,but I think it comes down to being taught that you deal with problems by drinking,much like a baby learns to talk by watching it's caretaker talk,a child learns to cope with life in an unhealthy way.

Thank you for the kind words tasmin.<br />
I think my boys respect me and now understand why I didn't always catch them when they were falling (metaphorically speaking) but when they were teenagers it wasn't easy. Their paternal grandmother was always there to "do" for them, it didn't matter what I said.<br />
I still sometimes worry, especially about my oldest, that they will develop a drinking problem, but I know I did what I could to educate them and I can no longer make choices for them.