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Losing Family and Friends to Alcoholism

answered 12:15 PM EST, Mon September 18, 2017
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Hello, I just read your comments on losing a friend to alcoholism. I agree with your comments and thoughts. I am wondering if there is published research in this area. I am just starting on my counselling degree and would like to explore this area in more detail. Any information you could pass on would be greatly appreciated.
Scott

Jeannie Cameron Says...

Hello Scott,

I don't know of any research in the area of loss particularly to alcoholism, however, considering addiction with the 'disease model' alcoholism affects so much of the body, organs, brain, etc are affected that many people die of related causes to the disease. There are many reasons people get into counseling and your question could serve as a good dissertation or thesis.

The nuances related to losing a friend or loved one to alcoholism depends on the length of time and severity of their disease. Many people are enabled by family and friends and therefore the disease grips the person so tightly that an emotional jack-hammer would be unable to stop them. The carnage of the degree of deterioration can leave others wounded with scars lasting long after the person has died.

I left my husband when our identical twin sons were 4 years old. I knew I didn't want them exposed to his drinking and consequently his drug use. Though the boys are now grown men they bear the scars of an absent father who was never there emotionally or physically for them. The boys received their black belts in Karate at 16 and attended at least 50 tournaments winning 1st and 2nd each time, their father never saw one nor contributed financially to any of their extra curriculum activities, because the disease is very selfish. The boys would go years without seeing hearing from him. They were FB friends yet he would never contact them through it. Three years ago their father died in a half-way house, alone having bled out after his liver shut down. It must have been a horrible death. The boys became very emotional and were there for him in a way he was never there for them. The pain for me never ends as I had to raise them as a single mother with all the trials and tribulations. The boys, fortunately, grew up with a sense of integrity, have high self-esteem, and are very successful in their careers, as I pushed them to be the best at everything they did. I never missed a tournament, I paid for a lifetime membership, it was expected they were to go to college. The only thing they learned from their father was to never become a slave to a substance that can destroy all the potential one has in life.

I tell this story because addictions, unlike cancer, diabetes, etc., wounds everyone near and dear to the person and takes away their ability to make good choices and decisions about their life. As a society, we must learn how to detach and have strong boundaries so that we can protect ourselves and others when others make the choice to destroy their selves. It is not easy but necessary. If I had of stayed with their father I can only imagine that my son's lives would only be a shadow of what it is now. Thankfully, I made the right choice even though the boys struggle with my decision. They will understand it completely when they are ready.

Great question Scott, I hope you pursue this direction, as it is a field that gets less attention than the substance abusers themselves. Addiction is a family and social disease affecting every connection of the person and the pain reverberates through decades.

Jeannie Cameron

LMHC, MCAP, IC & RC

Naples, FL

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Page last updated Sep 18, 2017

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