What I've Learned Growing Up The Child Of An Addict

What I've Learned Growing Up The Child Of An Addict

When you're a child of addiction, you tend to deal with a lot of pain, frustration, and guilt. At some point, these feelings become more an opportunity for growth and learning than anything else.

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I've always wanted my dad to be someone else. I'm sure every child has imagined their life with different parent(s) in a moment of anger- but when you're the child of an addict, it tends to be more than a fleeting thought; it becomes something of a daydream, actually.

Eventually, though, these thoughts and resentments are replaced with acceptance and appreciation.

As you enter adulthood and start making a life for yourself, separate from your parents', it seems easier to approach the "grown-ups" in your life with a greater sense of perspective and, therefore, understanding. You've now faced losses, have had to make some of the life-changing decisions that send some on a path to addiction, and have been exposed to certain environments that act as breeding grounds for addictive personalities and people prone to distress and deviated behavior.

Overall, you've seen more of the world; you know first-hand how hard it can be to experience, and why some people find any means of escape. I've always wanted my dad to be someone else- until I realized he taught me a lot about myself, the world around me, and the choices everyone must make at some point.

Until I was about 11 or so, I spent my summers months in Santa Cruz, California, where my father lives. I always arrived and left happy enough, but often dreaded the middle part of the trip. It wasn't all bad, of course: I had other family to see, frequent trips to the beach and boardwalk, and a lot of fresh seafood to eat. But many afternoons and evenings, my father was drunk. Very drunk. He would drive me drunk, he would leave me with strangers while he went to the pub to get drunker and when he was around, would hover over me like a sad, lost puppy. Sometimes I didn't understand, but when I did, I was heartbroken for him; I pitied him, even. His mother died when he was very young, and he grew up in Wales, where it was more common to start drinking at a young age, so he didn't really have anyone to urge him against it as relief from the grief he felt. His father, to make matters worse, was often fairly cold and distant.

My father, in retrospect, didn't stand much of a chance. Instead of a loser, or weak-minded and hopeless, I see him now as a product of his environment. I've come to appreciate that lots of people don't have access to the resources I do, or have people available to them that help, and not hinder, their personal growth. I recognize that he's made the choices he's made, good or bad, but have also learned that almost every one of them has absolutely nothing to do with me. In fact, I know he wishes he hadn't made some of them, if only for my sake. Instead of regretting the time I've spent with him like I used to, I appreciate that he even made time for me and that in his self-awareness, he has always allowed me the room to feel anger, grief, and frustration. Even if it was towards him.

Flash forward to more recently, when I learned that growth is not linear. It is not always easy, or helpful, to apply things you've learned in the past to new situations. This became more evident for me not long after Christmas a few years ago. A couple days prior, my dad had come to Washington for the holidays (because we concluded that he'd been sober for long enough to deserve a visit) and we were in downtown Seattle with my aunt and cousin just walking around. Apparently, he hadn't been as sober as long as he'd said, because he went into withdrawal in a small shop on the waterfront. He fell to the ground, and all I'd heard was the crash as his head hit the floor full-force. He laid there, seizing and unaware until the EMTs came for him. And I stood there, still and too aware, until my cousin pulled me to the back of the store.

This wasn't the last time this happened. It happened the next Christmas, too. Different place, fewer people, but it all looked and felt the same. I was disappointed for a long time that he couldn't keep sober for longer than a couple months. It seemed like every time he would make progress, he would fall off the wagon soon after. I started to see a pattern, though. Each time he failed, it became easier for him to put himself back together, and the periods between his failures would shorten in length. Apparently, the idea that growth is not linear did not just apply to me.

Every time I become resentful, or impatient with him, I remind myself that progress has dips and peaks, and is a process like anything else; he deserves, at the very least, the benefit of the doubt. Without it, he wouldn't have much to work towards.

I'm nineteen now and haven't spoken to my dad in months. Every time I do, I feel guilty and an impending sort of melancholy. Last time we spoke I was in Santa Cruz and it was in person; he was still drinking. I thought for sure it would be my last time with him, so I cherished it and tried to walk away with closure. Since that visit, I learned the most important thing of all: I am not obligated to give him my time or attention, nor should I feel guilty about keeping it from him, because it is not, and never has been, my job to keep him on the straight and narrow.

I am the child and, most of all, my own person. If I decide to call him, it is because I want to, and not because I feel I have to. If I call him, it will be because of all he's taught me and all he still has yet to.

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To The Grandmothers Who Made Us The Women We Are Today

Sincerely, the loving granddaughters.
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The relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter is something so uniquely special and something to be treasured forever.

Your grandma loves you like you are her own daughter and adores you no matter what. She is the first person you run to when you have a problem with your parents and she never fails to grace you with the most comforting advice.

She may be guilty of spoiling you rotten but still makes sure to stress the importance of being thankful and kind.

Your grandma has most likely lived through every obstacle that you are experiencing now as a young adult and always knows just exactly what to say.

She grew up in another generation where things were probably much harder for young women than they are today.

She is a walking example of perseverance, strength, and grace who you aim to be like someday.

Your grandma teaches you the lessons she had to learn the hard way because she does not want you to make the same mistakes she did when she was growing up.

Her hugs never fail to warm your heart, her smile never fails to make you smile, and her laugh never fails to brighten your day.

She inspires you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

You only hope that one day you can be the mother and grandmother she was to you.

A piece of girl’s heart will forever belong to her grandma that no one could ever replace.

She is the matriarch of your family and is the glue that holds you all together.

Grandmothers play such an important role in helping their granddaughters to grow into strong, intelligent, kind women.

She teaches you how to love and how to forgive.

Without the unconditional love of your grandma, you would not be the woman you are today.

To all of the grandmothers out there, thank you for being you.

Sincerely,

the loving granddaughters

Cover Image Credit: Carlie Konuch

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Stop Demonizing CBD Just Because You Associate It With THC

CBD doesn't get you high, do your research.

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I'm sure you've heard about CBD already, but if not, then let me break it down for you. Cannabidiol, CBD, is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant, but unlike the THC in the marijuana plant, it doesn't have any psychoactive properties.

CBD doesn't get you high.

When extracted from the plant, CBD has proven to be effective in the medical field. It has shown to be effective in the treatment of epilepsy, in the management of pain, in reducing depression and anxiety, and relieving cancer symptoms, among a host of other uses. New research from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York has revealed that CBD may be beneficial for society as a whole, too.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital conducted the study to understand how we can fight the opioid epidemic through the discovery of alternative treatment options by assessing the potential effects of CBD on craving and anxiety in heroin users.

42 drug abstinent men and women between the ages of 21 and 65, who had recently stopped using heroin, were recruited for the study. Two groups were formed out of the participants: a control group that received a placebo and a test group that received CBD doses ranging from 400 mg to 800 mg per day. After administration, participants were exposed to neutral environmental cues and cues that would be considered drug-use inducing over three sessions. The cues in the environment were tested because an addict's environment and the cues it gives are the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use.

The results of the research hold great promise for the future of CBD.

Participants who were in the test group and given CBD had significantly reduced cravings for heroin, and noted feeling less anxiety when exposed to drug-use inducing cues. Moreover, the CBD had a lasting effect on this group as it continued to reduce cravings and relieve anxiety for seven days after the last dose was administered. In essence, this is the most important takeaway from the research: CBD had lasting effects well after it was present in the body. Numerous vital signs like heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation were taken to ensure only objective results were obtained since cravings and anxiety are subjective feelings. Another finding was a reduction in participants' heart rate and salivary cortisol levels, which would have both increased in the presence of anxiety-provoking images.

I think the evidence points to a logical conclusion: CBD is safe, it is effective in treating opioid addictions, and it is beneficial for those who experience a host of issues from pain, to anxiety, to epilepsy or to illnesses. Now is the time to keep pushing for legalization to continue larger scale studies and introduce CBD as a valid treatment option.

"A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll and enormous health care costs." - Yasmin Hurd, director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

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