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October 11, 2011

I was reading an article by Stephanie Watson the other day about how a person becomes an alcoholic.  I was curious to see if there was truly a genetic cause or did outside events play a larger role.  And while scientists have determined there is a genetic link, they have yet to pinpoint the exact genes.  Where the article caught my attention was where it laid out that alcohol alters the chemicals in the brain’s reward center, and over a prolonged period of time, the body craves alcohol to restore pleasurable feelings and to avoid any negative feelings.

This leads me to my dad.  Since his death, I have been trying to come to terms with what he did to himself, as well as try to figure out what drove my dad to a bottle for comfort.  The more I look for answers, the more frustrated I get and the more questioning I get of myself.  As I said in one of my first posts, my dad drank for my entire life.  I was always running to the fridge to get him a beer, whether he was watching TV or working out in his shed.  But, to the best of my memory, I cannot recall anything more than beer being in the house.  I first noticed his desire for harder alcohol when I returned from an overseas assignment with the Marine Corps.  I had not seen my parents in nearly a year, and they flew up to Quantico to see me.  That night, while I was sitting in the hotel room with my parents, my dad asked me to join him at the hotel bar.  He would like to buy me a beer, since I turned 21 while I was overseas.  That is my first memory of my dad adding a shot of whiskey with his beer.

Over the following years, every time we went out to dinner, he would always have a shot of Jack Daniels with the meal, followed by a glass of B&B (Benedictine & Brandy).  Soon, the shot turned into a double shot, which soon turned to two double shots.  I learned to dread helping my dad with any type of home repair.  Because, regardless of what we were working on, we always needed to go to the hardware store to get a missing tool.  On the way back, we always stopped at a bar where he would have one beer and two double shots.

The question I find myself asking is what drove him to drink and increase the quantity and strength of what he drank.  Was it my joining the Marines?  Was he unhappy at home?  Was he completely miserable at work?  But, more than these questions, I find myself asking why didn’t I see it and could I have done more?  I know the answer to both these questions, but it still does not stop me from asking if I could have done more.  On two occasions I confronted my father about his drinking.  On both occasions, he lied to me and I took him at his word.  In the years leading up to his death, I told myself that I did my part and if he died, I know I tried.  But did I try hard enough?

In the end, I guess it really doesn’t matter, as he is dead and I am left to putting my feelings on paper.  I keep waiting for it to get easier, but it has not happened.  I am getting frustrated which leads me to get angry at my dad.  I feel like I am living in a viscous circle and I don’t know when I will get out.  Through patience, faith and the love of my family, I will get there, hopefully sooner rather than later.  Through it all, I still find myself missing my dad.


From → Alcoholism

  1. Wow. So glad you are asking these questions because I can see how important finding the answers has become.

    I take it you are not addicted?

    Two suggestions. Is there an Al Anon group near you or an ACOA (

    The whole ‘how did he get addicted anyway’ answer is not as complicated as one thinks. I’ve found so much wisdom in the Joe and Charlie tapes here: Especially listen to the Dr’s Opinion. It does explain addiction to alcohol. Then if you have time, listening to the Steps will give you even more information about how addiction grips the mind and what it takes to overcome it. The process is daunting and just too much for countless people.

    I’m continuing to pray for you. This disease (and it is one) claims far too many wonderful people. I’m so sorry you’ve lost your Dad to it. He sounds amazing.

    • No, I am not addicted. I will have a beer or glass of wine about once a month, if that. The last time I checked, there were no Al Anon groups near me, but I will check again. Thank you for the link, I will be sure to check it out.

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