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Legacy of Hope for Families of Alcoholics/Addicts

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Legacy of Hope for Families of Alcoholics/Addicts

ANGRY, Scared, Depressed, Overwhelmed, Resentful, Fear - Fear - FEAR! - Feelings all too familiar to spouses, children, siblings and friends of alcoholics and addicts. For everyone alcoholic or addict, there are 5 to 10 other people getting sick around them on the gut-wrenching feelings of living with and loving someone with an alcohol or addiciton problem. The behaviors of an alcoholic/addict can be unbearable - irresponsibility, verbal/physical/sexual abuse, stealing, lying, cheating, etc. - symptoms that alcoholism/addiction severely alter the thinking of the people we love and eat away at our relationship with them.

I had all these feelings and more when my first husband developed serious alcohol, prescription and illegal drug addictions. I met him at 15 - my first true love and we married after graduating from college. The alcoholism and addictions took hold during our 13 years of marriage as the "stress" of his job as a dentist increased. His troubled childhood and the grief and feelings of worthlessness that came with it were locked away deep inside. He turned to alcohol, Percodan and Valium (prescription drugs), and eventually cocaine with other professional people to suppress feelings and cope with a world he did not feel comfortable in. He became severely withdrawn and then angry, throwing things, punching holes in the wall with his fist, and verbally abusive. I, in turn, became a classic wife of an alcoholic/addict. I tried to fix this problem for the one I loved, thinking that his decreasing love and affection was somehow my fault. Dressed nicer, made special meals, worked two jobs to make up for his declining income, wrote letters to him to try to get him to understand the decline in our relationship, and worried, felt guilty, and even had moments of feeling suicidal.

He got the flu. Self-medicated with Percodan, then drank some alcohol and snorted some cocaine to stay awake and watch football. In the middle of the night, his heart stopped, that morning at the age of 35, he died. That was well over 20 years ago. I have participated in support for the families of alcoholics/addicts for 30 years now. I also had requests to share my story with others, including using my dance and acting background. So, for the last 22 years, I have traveled the US to share my story and stories of others I have met along the way into middle schools, high schools, colleges, churches, conferences and communities.
I have also held support groups with 25,000 wounded teens (grades 6 thru 12) all of whom are children of alcoholics and addicts - children who are emotionally damaged by the impact - severe low self-esteem and hopelessness, anger and resentments, withdrawn and acting out - a lot of self-harm, a lot of sleeping around to find love after being molested by an alcoholic in their home, a lot dating alcoholcs/addicts and being more abused, a lot getting pregnant looking for a baby to replace the love they did not get in the home, .....

Do not underestimate the damage this disease does to WHOLE FAMILIES.
FAMILIES and FRIENDS of alcholics and especially the CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS need significant help too. RECOVERY from the affects of someone else's drinking and drug use is imperative or the disease passes on to generation after generation after generation.

I've left some "I MATTER" Messages on Youtube for children/families of alcoholics. If they give you a mustard seed of hope, then let it guide you to REACH OUT FOR HELP - Al-Anon, therapy, counseling, etc. www.youtube.com/svanderlip

If you wish to help the message carry to your school, church or community, I invite you to visit me at www.legacyofhope.com

One day at a time -


This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.

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