Newest Review: ... drinking about 3 months ago not very long but at 23 i am now drinking 5 cans of strong bow cider and a 50cl bottle of whiskey a day.... more
Alcoholism in General
Member Name: rosebud2001
Alcoholism in General
Last week I received a phone call from a friend of mine to tell me his ex-wife had died. I hadn't seen her for some years as she moved away from London after they divorced but she is someone I remember as a vivacious, bubbly and very funny lady that I used to meet regularly in the pub, back in the days when my social life revolved around the place.
Once she divorced my friend she re-married and the last time I saw her was before my daughter was born but she was happy and seemed healthy then.
When I was last visiting London just a couple of months ago, I met up with my friend and his daughter and I obviously asked after her mother. She told me she had become, in her words, "a recluse" - who spent evenings indoors watching TV and drinking heavily on her own - and sadly now I find this drinking has taken her from her family at the very early age of just 52.
My father was an alcoholic, so I share the pain and frustration my friend's daughter feels at losing her mother - but my father was a very different kind of alcoholic - he was the social one.
My friend's ex-wife lost her ability to go out and be a social butterfly - my father on the other hand, never did.
He grew up with parents who had signed the pledge - so there was never any alcohol in the house.
At the age of 18 he got a part-time job in a pub in Glasgow. His own father was so anti-alcohol that my father lied and told him he was working as a waiter. The tips and fiddles he was introduced to meant my father ended up earning more money working part-time in the pub than his own father earned as a cobbler or his mother earned working in the crockery department at the old Arnotts store in the city.
He felt very guilty about this, but he also felt restricted by the rules of the house so he started to drink whisky - and found he had a taste for it.
My father had some inner demons which dented his self-confidence in his youth. He was born out of wedlock to his mother's younger sister and was adopted by the people he, and I, considered his parents.
At the age of 13 he was told by his biological mother of his origins and she reiterated the fact he was a "bastard". He never really got over this revelation, which is really nothing of note these days but in the 1940s the stigma was enormous. Later on she married and had a family of her own, but my father remained her dark secret that she kept from her younger children to maintain a degree of respectability.
His adoptive parents had had two daughters who died in childhood from a genetic condition they inherited from their parents and this put added pressure on my father as the sole surviving child, despite the fact he adored his adoptive mother and father.
He was able to contain his taste for alcohol for some years - he joined the Merchant Navy and was a copious drinker but it didn't take over his life. He met and married my mother, who was oblivious to his love of the hard stuff and worked hard and stayed sober to raise their family.
When I was in my teens, my father started working away from home a lot, and that's when the addiction began to take hold.
The first time I realised he may have issues with alcohol was when I was 19 and in a pub with him. It was one of the first times I had gone to the pub with my father but he went from being funny and good company one minute to being incoherent and loud the other. The landlord eventually asked us to leave because of the noise he was making.
This became a pattern over the years and as he grew older, his behaviour became more outrageous. My father wasn't a nasty drunk - he was never violent or abusive but he was a complete and utter pest and no fun to be with. He never knew when he had had enough and would drink until he passed out, and believe me, he passed out in lots of strange places.
Eventually his liver began to shut down and he ended up in a coma. Doctors were able to save him by removing his spleen and he vowed he wouldn't drink again.
Sadly this vow only lasted for 6 months - once he felt stronger again he was back in the pub drinking pints and whisky, despite the pleas from those who loved him.
Like all alcoholics, he lied to those who cared about him - he told my mother the consultant who had treated him and told him his liver was "repaired" and he could drink in moderation. He told me his drinking "wasn't a problem" when quite clearly it was.
In the last year of his life, his health was shot to pieces. He struggled to walk and his memory became addled. He would recall fantastical and completely untrue events to his family which concerned and upset us. I later learned this is typical behaviour in alcoholics.
Eventually he ended up back in hospital after breaking his arm and, to be polite, having major bowel problems. At first we assumed drying out would solve the problem but it quickly became evident his issues were more serious.
My mother asked the consultant why they weren't fixing his broken arm, to which he responded with "his arm is the least of his problems now". His liver was diseased irreparably with cirrhosis and in addition to this they had discovered his body was riddled with cancer.
The very last day I spent with my father was the first and only time he admitted to me he had a problem with alchohol. He said he bitterly regretted going back on the drink - when he got sick the first time he wasn't in much in the way of pain and had assumed that if he was going to die through alcoholism it would entail a death where he drifted away.
The reality however was altogether different. He suffered severe water retention which meant his fluid intake was severely limited. He was in severe pain for much of the time and in the end he said that if he had known it was going to be like this, he would never have touched another drop again.
Watching a man who had been vibrant, intelligent, amusing and kind turn into a shadow of himself was devastating for me, as was the knowledge that he was not going to be about to see the baby I was carrying at the time.
He was 61 when he died and drink had robbed him of the chance to see his first granddaughter - our final conversation was the day after she was born when he could barely speak down the phone and he passed away when she was just 6 days old.
I still miss my father and reflect upon the kind of grandfather my daughter has missed out on, but I won't hide from her the fact he died so young was because of drink.
I enjoy a drink too - probably too many in the past - but am aware that alcoholism can be passed on from one generation to the next so I have to be very careful. I also believe my father turned to drink to wash away feelings of shame he felt over his origins, and also to blot out pain whenever something bad happened in his life. He mistakenly thought it turned him into a more interesting person too, when in fact the opposite was true.
I often wish my father could have admitted to himself he had a problem - I have seen others do this and get the help they need - but my father seemed to view this as a weakness.
When you are young you think you are indestructible - you think you can down a bottle of vodka and the worst that can happen to you is a sore head the next day - but if you let it become too much of a habit, time will catch up with you in the end.
Also, don't fool yourself if you are putting away a bottle of wine every evening that you are in some way less dependent on alcohol as the vagrant drinking Super Lager in the street.
Alcoholism can touch anyone and the catalyst can be something as innocuous as lack of confidence to a mask to cover a devastating loss.
However constant heavy drinking over a long period of time will only lead to one place - and that is death.
Summary: Alcoholism is a terminal illness
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