Northpoint Recovery College Scholarship 2017 Winning Essay

Substance Abuse

In 2012, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than ten percent of United States children had a parent with alcoholic abuse, and I was one of them. My father was a closet drunk, going through a 750ml bottle of Black Velvet every night and spending the following day working through a hangover until he could fill up again. He was angry, sick, and mentally absent. While to the rest of the world he seemed like your typical father, at home he would turn off the facade and pay more attention to the bottle than his own children and wife.

Alcoholism left my father with virtually no liver. Shortly after his liver gave up, the mitral valve in his heart gave way under the constant physical stress he had and at only 45 years old he had open heart surgery. He'd lost friends, family, organs, and jobs because of his substance abuse, and yet nothing changed. All that mattered was the dull sense of nothing he got from being drunk. I spent many nights in tears throwing his Black Velvet bottle away and putting a blanket on him as he laid passed out in his chair. Multiple times my mother would call me out from school because of the emotional turmoil his alcoholism put me through. It was hard to accept, but I had spent my whole life knowing nothing else. To me, it was my norm.

On May 1, 2012, my father made the selfless, life changing decision to check himself into rehab for his alcohol addiction. Finally, after over 20 years, my father had reached the beginning of the end. His 90 days at Keystone was the hardest moment of our struggles with his addiction problems and wore me physically and mentally. My father's detox was painful to watch, and seeing his entire persona that I grew up with breaking down was too hard to put into words. He was at his lowest when he was in treatment, but the humility he gained from it would change the lives of all of us. Dad found long lost spirituality and self worth that my mother and I had all but given up on ever seeing again. It was a miracle and was the turning point in my life where I finally got to have a father.

Including today, my father is now 1,996 days sober. He has never relapsed since his treatment and my family is stronger than ever. We value our time together more than ever. I almost lost my father to alcohol, and that is something I will never forget. The way I view life is different from others. Parties aren't appealing to me and drinks will never taste anything but bitter to me. I hate alcohol and I hate what it does to people. Life in many instances is taken for granted, and I hope that one day more people become aware of just how serious substance abuse is. From one of the ten percent to another and anyone else who will listen, stay safe and know there are ways out and a better life beyond the darkness. God bless.

-Mary J.