- Friends & Family
- Mental Health
Submitted by: Jamie Thompson
While I have never personally struggled with addiction, it is very common throughout my family. My parents met in a rehab center. My sister is an alcoholic. My brother is addicted to heroin. So, it is safe to say that I am very susceptible to addiction.
I have what is known as an addictive personality. That awareness, however, is how I’ve helped combat the temptation of drugs and alcohol.
My parents are an example of how addiction can impact lives. My father has struggled with an addiction to hydrocodone for several years. I can remember a day that I received a random phone call in which I was asked if I could drive my father to the hospital. I remember sitting there with him for hours while he had an IV bag attached to him while he detoxed. It was frighteningly familiar to watching my grandfather when he was dying in the hospital. (My grandfather never had an addiction as far as I know, it was just the same level of fear.)
My father was also a terrible alcoholic when I was younger. My mother said he would disappear for days on end and come back with no memory of what he had even done. It ended up costing him his marriage, and I did not see him for a few years. My father allegedly became sober after that, although I have heard stories of him getting drunk after that point, so I was never sure if he was just good at hiding it.
Since I am an empathetic person, I saw these struggles and knew that I didn’t want to be a part of it. I knew how much it had hurt me, and would never want to cause that pain to others.
There were a lot of experiences that could be considered traumatic among my siblings. My sister attempted suicide a few times while she was intoxicated. My parents (and step-parents) put the burden on me to take care of her one summer. Most of that time was spent sitting outside of her room, listening to her cry just to make sure she was still alive. Again, knowing how painful that was, I could never hurt someone like that.
My brother, the heroin addict, stole from the family too often to pay for his addiction. Most of the things I lost were movies and electronics. He also took my sister’s wedding band, and broke into other family member’s homes. This taught me a lot about forgiveness and knowing how to set boundaries for my family.
As far as the mental illness goes, I personally don’t think anyone is ever immune from depression. But I also do not believe people are defined by their illness or addiction. I did have a grandmother commit suicide before I was born. I knew my mother took this hard, so I could again be empathetic towards a situation like that.
I suppose that having an awareness to never become addicted is a good preventative measure