Teens Affected By Alcoholic Family Members Should Know These Things

The author of the video below has been affected by alcoholic family members for all of her life. She shares things that teens should know when dealing with an alcoholic loved one.

Transcription Starts Here:

“Hi guys. I’m Jody Lamb and I am the author of  ‘Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool. It’s a middle-grade novel for tweens about coping with alcoholism. This is the children of the alcoholic’s week and so it’s very fitting to share with you some things about my life.

I’m 30 years old and I would say that of the eleven thousand or so days that I’ve been alive, every single one of those days have been affected negatively, in some way, by alcoholism in my family (read Emotionally Damaged By An Alcoholic). It is nearly killed some of the people I’ve loved dearest and it’s a widespread problem today, still, in my large, lovable family. But when I was young, we didn’t speak of that and I certainly didn’t tell anyone, outside of my family, because I’ve worked hard to keep it a secret. I was ashamed and I thought it was a problem unique to our family. I was ashamed. And these alcoholics in my family cause me a lot of worry and pain and a lot of terrible-terrible times. And today, I’m stronger for it. But there are many things that I wished someone had shared with me that I know today. Actually, seven major things.

The first one is: ‘You are not alone’. I’ve estimated 1 in 4 kids in the U.S. has an alcoholic parent. That’s a quarter of the kids in your class, on your team, in your neighborhood, who are going through the same stuff as you. And that research by the National Institute on alcohol abuse and alcoholism, doesn’t take into account some of the addictions that we have recently with prescription drugs. You could very well know, just as many people who are going through this kind of problems at home as you know, who are not.

Two, ‘You can’t cause a parent or someone else to drink or drink less’. Regardless of what an alcoholic tells you, you cannot make them do that. They drink because they’re addicted to drinking. And when they blame others for their drinking, it’s only because they’re disappointed in their decisions and the way that the disease has control over them.

Three, ‘You can’t cure it, you can’t control it, and you definitely can’t make them stop drinking’. And I poured out so many bottles of alcohol. I worked so hard to prevent things from happening that I could think that would cause stress and cause them to drink more. I did everything. I was the perfect well-behaved student. I was the hero child. And when that didn’t work, I thought I tried the opposite. So I went down the path that my alcoholic loved ones did. And I went to parties, and I drink. I looked for negative attention and that didn’t work. They kept drinking. I thought they’d think, “Oh, we’re a bad influence on her, we’ll stop.” but they didn’t. They kept drinking. No matter what I did, I wrote letters. I cried my eyes out. I’d begged. I didn’t realize at that time that I was wasting my time and I am definitely was not taking good care of myself. And I was actually preventing my alcoholic loved ones from realizing that they needed help. And finally as an adult, I realized that alcoholics only stop drinking when they recognized that they’re addicted. And they know that they need help, and they reached out for it and they get it.

Four, ‘You have one ultra critical, top priority, important job in this world.’ Your responsibility in life is to make sure that you’re safe, you’re healthy and you’re happy. That’s it. If you don’t feel safe, you need to ask for help. If you’re worried all the time, you need to ask for help. If you don’t feel hopeful about the future, you need to ask for help. And that’s a hard thing to do, it is so scary. But you’re responsibility is to take care of yourself and you’ll be so glad that you’ve reached out for help.

Five, ‘Ignore stupid grownups’. So it turns out in grownup land, I’ve discovered that there are a lot of stupid grownups and they liked to squash the dreams of young people with their negativity. And it is because they’re full of regrets about their own lives and their forgotten dreams. So listen only to the grownups who tell you that you’re going to make your dreams happen. And it’s going to be hard and you’re going to face challenges. But you’re going to take the different path, you don’t have to go down the path of your alcoholic loved ones did. You’re going to break the cycle because you’re amazing and you’re going to have an extraordinary life if you believe in that.

Six, ‘School yourself’. Would you believe that I was 21 years old before I finally marched myself to the library and studied alcoholism? This is before I knew that Google was a verb. And I was completely blown away by what I’ve discovered, that alcoholism is a global widespread problem and that my family’s little drinking problems ( while living with an alcoholic) were actually severe cases of alcoholism. And I learned that the more addicted the person becomes; the harder it is for them to stop on their own. And that alcoholism changes a person’s brain and they need medical help. They need councilors, and they need to go on for treatment. So, school yourself about alcoholism. And on my website jodylamb.com, if you click on the resources tab, you’ll find the list of the websites that I’ve found to be most helpful in learning about alcoholism.

And seven, ‘Help is there’. So even if you’re not sure if your parent or other loved one isn’t alcoholic, reach out to another family member that you trust, or a teacher or a councilor, and tell them about what’s going on at home. Also consider Alateen meetings. Alateen is a part of the Al-Anon family groups and it’s a support group for teenagers and teens to get together, who are affected by alcoholic family members and there, you can let your guard down and relax and share about what’s happening in your life or just listen and you’ll get a lot of strength from that. They meet in community centers, in churches, in schools, and if you google Alateen and Al-Anon family groups, you’ll find the link to the website there that has a list of locations of meetings and also phone number you can call for that information. There’s also a great online community called Children of Addicted Parents & People. That’s out for the U.K. and they have online messaging boards for people between ages of 7 and 30 who are affected by addicted family members. And there are mentors and people who had gone through the same thing that you have, were doing well today, who can offer their words, and share their stories to help you.

And most importantly, if at any time of the day or night, you feel that you are in danger, you do not feel safe, please call child help U.S.A. at 1-800-422-4453 and they have professional trained councilors who work around the clock who can take your call and help you. I wish you the best of luck. And for those who are affected by this, please do what you can to spread awareness about this and share your stories about how you’re coping.

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