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A Mother Reflects on Her Own Addiction, Part 1

She was every parent's dream daughter - smart, funny, excellent student, with a group of good friends. So how did she become an alcoholic?

By Shelley Richanbach, CADC  Founder of Next Steps For Women

It was the middle of the night. I was lying on the porch outside the front door, dead weeds entangled in my hair.

Two cops with flashlights stood over me. My mother in her pink duster and pink curlers stared with disbelief as she identified me as her oldest girl. I was 14.

In Parent to Parent’s last blog, A Mother Reflects on Her Daughter’s Addiction, Cathy shared how devastated she was when she realized her daughter was in trouble.

Yet, when I came home visibly inebriated, I was simply helped to bed. The next morning “it” wasn’t spoken of as if “it” never happened. Every weekend I set out to get drunk and accomplished my goal. Every weekend, not a word was uttered.

I wonder if my Mom was devastated?  Or was she terrified? I still don’t know.

Like Cathy’s daughter, I started out life as a typical little girl excelling in school, especially through the 9th grade.

Early on I began acrobat and tap dance lessons. My 8th grade voted me the first girl student council president.

All of the kids in our neighborhood swam in the summers and ice-skated during the winters.

I enjoyed years of cheerleading and writing for the school newspaper; was awarded Girl Scouts’ top honor, loved singing in the church choir.

It was made clear to me that I do well in school and earn my own way. I brought home straight A’s, and as soon as I could, I got a job as a bus girl. My mom drove me and picked me up—too young to drive.

I began to steal splits of wine that were used for table decorations at the restaurant—prying out the cork with a kitchen fork, alone in my bedroom.

Deep inside I had the intuition that something wasn’t quite right with me. But no one seemed to notice so I think I decided that I must be okay.

By 10th grade, my grades had plummeted. Still not a word from my parents. Maybe they were afraid and didn’t know what to do so they did nothing hoping “it” would go away. Perhaps they I imagined it was just a phase.

But, didn’t they know that addiction is genetically predisposed? Weren’t they able to see a link between my behavior and that of Grandpa Ed’s, Grandpa Gordon’s, Aunt Connie’s, Uncle Roland’s, Cousin Jim’s, John’s and Debbie’s?

As a young woman, forty years ago, alcoholism was seen as a dirty and unspeakable business belonging to others outside our house.

Now, I have 8 years of recovery, and my parents and siblings still don’t want to talk about what happened. It still doesn’t feel safe to talk about it.

My brother is deeply depressed, but Jack Daniels understands. My sister tells me not to phone her after 7:00pm. I know what that means.

In my next blog posts, I will write about how I found my way from years of black outs and pass outs to a life of wellness and recovery. 

Please talk to your child if you suspect alcohol or drug abuse. If addiction runs in your family, your child is genetically predisposed, making her at risk for developing substance abuse problems. Her use is cause for concern and may not be “just a phase."

_______________________________

Shelley Richanbach is one of three Bay Area moms writing Parent to Parent ~ a blog sharing concerns about substance abuse. Lisa Frederiksen, Author Speaker Consultant and Founder of BreakingTheCycles.com, and Cathy Taughinbaugh,Parent Recovery and Life Coach and Founder of Treatment Talk, round out the Parent to Parent team. Check back every Wednesday as one of these moms will share their expertise and personal experiences with substance use, abuse, addiction and recovery. And if you find yourself in any one of their stories, consider attending their March 3, 2013, Substance Abuse Workshop for Parents.


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