Vol. 19, No. 2 • May 2015

Living with Addicts

by Jacob, age 13

Names of the people in this story have been changed.

How do most people think life is for a child of alcoholics and drug addicts? Horrible? Violent? Well, violent is true, but horrible is wrong. Addicts are often happy when they are drunk or high, but it is the day after when they are miserable. Then they grab their faces and moan or cry. This is described by the addicts as a "stomachache" or "migraine." When a kid has to be around parents who have a hangover or withdrawal, the child feels like he or she has to take care of their parents, which makes the child feel unwanted. I could list names of people besides my family who do drugs, but that would take forever, so I will just talk about my family.

My mother's abusive ex-boyfriend, Joey, was sometimes funny and playful when he was drunk. Joey and I used to wrestle for fun with fake punches: "Pow!" "Smack!" We always made sound effects. I felt joyful when we wrestled each other, and I did not care if he was drunk or not. When he was actually violent towards my mother, he was also always drunk. At these times, I cared tremendously that he was drunk, because he would scare us enough to make us run away. When Joey was drunk, you could not tell if he was or not, because he was drunk most of the time. Because of this, he did not feel it anymore when he had a hangover.

I have never seen my mother drunk, but I have seen her drink alcohol. My mother has smoked cannabis before. When my mom, Joey, and their friends did drugs, they always called this a "safety meeting," because the kids were safer when the parents did drugs away from them, so the kids would not have to be exposed to second-hand smoke or chemicals. The adults always had the "safety meeting" in one of the adult's bedrooms. They would tell us kids, "we're having a safety meeting, so don't come in." Once, I walked in on a safety meeting on purpose because I was going to tell on my brother for hitting me. Then I saw my mother's friend snorting my brother's ADHD medication. I knew it was my brother's medication because of the color of the capsule that was sitting on the plate. My mom yelled at me to leave the room and she cussed. Later, she pretended it did not happen.

So many things that are associated with alcohol and drugs have happened in my life, good and bad. The police have searched our house many times and found drugs hidden or planted in our yard. I have seen my mother being choked when Joey was drunk. My mother has been put in jail four times that I remember. Her ex-boyfriend, Joey, is in prison right now, and so is my daddy. These people have a bad history with alcohol and drugs. I have tried not to follow their footsteps, but it seems like their footsteps follow me.

How has my life been as a child of alcoholics and drug addicts? Surprisingly, I think my life always has been great and will only get better. I have grown as a writer and in knowledge of why drug addicts and alcoholics act the way they do. I hope I do not end up like my parents, but if I do, I hope my kids will not end up like me. Is that not every parent's fear? Well, stop worrying--the children of alcoholics and drug addicts already would hate to be like their "embarrassing parents." But remember they might end up like their parents anyway if the children see the parents do things that are not okay. So, if parents ever find themselves getting drunk, remember: like father, like son. Monkey see, monkey do.

Jacob received $20 for having this essay published in Fostering Perspectives.

~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~