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Message Board > Families / Partners of Addicts > Addiction In Our Adult Child's Family

Posted by: Sallyanna April 27, 2019, 12:08 AM
One topic I've thought about is other family members who have or have had addictions. This is kind of a personal topic because it takes some focus off the addicted adult child and onto ourselves and other family members. Addiction does tend to run in families. For myself, my maternal grandfather had an alcohol addiction and died early (50's) from stomach cancer. My ex husband's father also had an alcohol addiction which would be my daughter's paternal grandfather. He died in his 50's from pancreatic cancer. After 25 years of marriage, I learned my ex husband had an addiction he had kept well hidden his whole adult life.

Posted by: NyToFlorida April 27, 2019, 10:11 AM
I have thought about the family tree. In our family there is not a high degree of addiction. maybe one person in each generation had some dysfunctional issues. One side of my family had depression issues. looking at grandparents and greatgrandparents. the issues were vague. no doctors, no medications, no hospital stays, no rehabs. kind of undiagnosed, functional. In another side of the family a brother in law had alcohol issues - had to stop drinking completely. his parents always had a few drinks every day. no arrests. no trouble. always worked and paid bills.

I think there is a combination of variables. Family history. where a person falls on the mental health spectrum. their own personality traits.

maybe a big part of this epidemic did start with rx medications. my son was in the generation of ADD medications being prescribed. In college he told me he thinks he has ADD and took a friends medication and it helped him focus. (I never had him diagnosed as a kid. he did OK in school but not great. he did have trouble focusing in class, but he didn't try very hard. so I never thought it was something to be medicated for.

he was drinking before going to college, but something "we all did" at that age. having a few beers at a friends house down the street - kind of a thing.

In college I think there was a large variety of pills being passed around, plus drinking a lot.
(we should have pulled him out of college when it took him 3 yrs to get a 2 yr degree. In 4 yrs he did not complete the bachelor's.

I can see back to when he got out of college even though he was working full time he was not interested in paying bills, going to grocery store, doing the normal routine people do to take care of themselves. Just continued to live like a college student. Then got into opioid pain meds.

I think the addiction has to do w personality, maturity, mental health, and availability of the large assortment of medications and drugs. and the person's will to take drugs and convince themselves that the "medications" make them feel better and normal instead of learning better coping skills and life skills. the "self medicating - I know better than the doctors - denial" Not willing to responsibly deal with their issues.

In my husband's side of the family we can see that the men did not "take care" of things, they just worked. the wife took care of everything else. that is how my son lives. the problem for him is that his generation of women do not want to "take care" of someone. Also, when he is in a relationship he does not want to "answer" to someone. when someone gets too close he drops them. he also puts the drugs and male friends first. so no nice young woman puts up with that for long. (this is my observation - I think it is close to being accurate)

last summer I read a text from my son to someone that said " It is great waking up everyday and not being sick" I just don't understand when knowing that, how he can keep going back to it. he even said "amazing how things fall into place when your sober"

Having these small insights into his thoughts makes me know that he knows what he is doing and it is his choice. This make me more confident that he needs to live without us and become independent. It is possible if he puts in the effort.

Posted by: Sallyanna April 27, 2019, 10:39 AM
I think there are a lot of functional people who have addictions. Just because one is able to work doesn't negate their addiction. I have an uncle who had a wonderful career, very respected, he and his wife have traveled the world, their daughter is an attorney, yet, every night starting at 5 pm they drink mixed drinks til they go to bed. When they visit are able to play cards socialize intelligent conversations. I know they have an addiction to alcohol yet no one else in my family even questions it....the elephant in the room.

Posted by: Sallyanna April 27, 2019, 11:10 AM
I have a brother who is retired and is quite wealthy. He's the 'golden child' in my family. For the past 15 years he's had a "hobby" of going to the race track and betting on horses. A family member even threw him a birthday party at a suite at the track. Its very obvious to me he has a gambling addiction yet my family thinks he just has a love for horses (??? Hello). People really put on the blinders in families. Its too close to home and there is denial. Plus, if he had an addiction, he couldnt be the 'golden child' and that ain't going to happen. Reality is a big pill to swallow.

Posted by: samegame April 27, 2019, 11:31 AM
Addiction in the family is tricky as is the family medical history overall. A lot of those issues come from traditions, common environments, diets, times etc

Point being maybe something like unquestioned drinking was an accepted norm. I saw it in our family immediate and extended. To this day senior citizen family members joke about drunk relatives who were flat out drunks, you smelled them before you saw them(they by coincidence just happen to have addicted adult children among other things). It wasn't until MADD came into the spotlight that people started to really question things like drunken driving. Embarssingly and shamefully myself, family and friends would frequently drive after drinking.

One of the family members went through about five year period where they dented, dinged or totaled a car a year. We used to joke about what kind of car are driving now but when you began to think about it you knew what was going on. Lucky they lived in towns with low profile police presence. Also by the end of that 5 year period they coincidenetly stopped drinking completely and held on to cars 3-5 years.

I stopped drinking and driving decades ago. Unless there's a meal I don't drink anything. Some are baffled that I can stop at one drink or not drink at all. Yet decades ago would go out on the town, bar hopping or a bar to drink only. Luckily I was always aware that I had to pace myself with most of my jobs requiring driving/valid license and was a drug free work place DFWP. So I always had a good evening meal if nothing else. But that's happily decades ago. I couldn't believe how much time I wasted not so much hung over but tired from the night before spending half the morning in bad and the rest of day doing nothing. When I stopped drinking getting up by 9 on the weekends was late.

Addiction is not fate. Things happen for a reason including the way one was brought up, current peers & friends and family attitude towards the addicted and addictions. These issues must be brought up even if in subtle ways with family because there is already bias and automatic validation when it comes to family. Use that to your advantage.

Posted by: NyToFlorida April 27, 2019, 2:00 PM
My in-laws - drank mixed drinks and smoked cig after work until going to bed every day. rarely socialized as they got older. socialized around drinking when they were younger. no intelligent conversations. always cried about being broke. family did not consider them alcoholics, not really aware of it. just assumed they mismanaged money, expenses. cry about being broke but must have spent a grand a month on liquor store and cigarettes. their actions did affect their parents as they would ask for loans every so often. my husband grew up in poverty and dysfunction. which is probably why he works so much.

Alcoholic? their decisions hurt themselves and those around them.
maturity? they were not mature about their decisions.

On my side. going back 100 years my family lived near a horse race track. going to the track was a thing to do in the summer. family get togethers there. even now we live far apart and go to the track to have mini reunions. (hard to have much conversations in between bets and getting favorite foods! gotta figure out the picks early!) My husband and I spend about $40 each on bets and usually win half of it back. An Uncle-by-marriage - lived near the track. always betted on the horses - so did a grandfather. both of them had extra time on their hands and extra money. both also had an interest in the stock market. Both things were open topics of conversations in the family - talking about the best horses and jockeys and about stock market observations. In these cases their actions did not affect their quality of life and did not affect other family members.

Is it any different from the person who goes to the gym every day for hours and wont miss a day?

I think the definition of addiction depends on the degree that the addiction adversely affects the person's life and those around them.

maybe the predisposition is there in the family, but other factors turn it from being a benign addiction to a malignant addiction.

(benign vs malignant - I just made that up. lol )

Posted by: Sallyanna April 27, 2019, 2:51 PM
Great posts same game and NTF. I think for my brother he has tried to stop going and cant. I think he goes very often and has a lovehate relationship with it. Even though he has the money he has lost much money over time. I think too he ends up there after running errands and is rather secretive about it. Once he starts he can't stop and he'll stay longer to try to win his money back which usually doesn't go well. Its his life and money Im not judging him. The only point I'm making is he has a gambling addiction. Its been going on a long time and he can't stop.

Posted by: Sallyanna April 27, 2019, 2:56 PM
Now if I said this to my family I would be shot (literally). He doesn't even have a dog yet he goes "for the horses". I grew up with him he never liked animals...I just don't drink the kool aid because I want to see life through a clear lens not a distorted one.

Posted by: mtnmom April 27, 2019, 3:35 PM
I think when people "function" with their every day lives, even though they have addictions, we tend to overlook it because they have a job, house, car, family. It's when their addictions start impacting other people's every day lives that we get sucked into the drama & then they are shocked when we decide to stop banging our heads against the wall....

my son hasn't attempted to call today - he either has realized we were serious about not calling us or he got himself in trouble or he's sick. I was reading the withdrawal effects of meth today. While there is some physical symptoms, most of them are psychosis, intense cravings, depression, etc.

Posted by: samegame April 27, 2019, 4:07 PM
I'm seeing the word 'functional' alot. That's an over used/misused word when it comes to alkies and addicts.

In the workplace addicts and alcoholics are frequently ignored or covered for. And written off as someone with a problem which could limit their chances for promotions, training, raises, overtime etc. At home I've seen families with these so called 'functional' alcoholics and all of their children have/had severe alcohol issues. One is middle aged and by his own admission will never be able to get a 'real' job that requires background checks and drug testing. He 'functions' in the cash only economy and privately owned businesses. He can't last in a company with structure or corporate policy that is followed. One of the parents can only 'fuction' in highly formal settings ie structured events and groups. They've done poorly with their neighbors, making few local friends(guess were not good enough) or small groups. Their adult children don't want to be around them.

People have to remember when using the word 'functional' with an alkie or addict is that many go out of their way to put on a show not just to look all prim & proper but to cover up/distract from their habits. If you look closely at or think about these so called functional addicts or alkies you'll see right through them.

Posted by: Sallyanna April 27, 2019, 5:52 PM
By functional I personally meant they were not in the streets, in jail, or destitute in some way. They are able to make a living. Their home life is usually highly dysfunctional because there is obviously denial and compensations being made.

Growing up we lived down the road from an airplane pilot and his family. He was in the air force and became a commercial airline pilot for a major airline. Their family and my family became friends. He was a captain and was one for 20 years. Great man and highly respected as a captain. We were shocked to learn his wife called the airline one day while he was on his way to the airport to catch his flight. Told them he was too drunk to fly. Turns out he was a major alcoholic and had been for the whole time he was a pilot. His wife got the courage to call the airline after many many years of enabling. We were shocked had no idea. He was suspended with pay for a year and had to go to detox, rehab, AA. Eventually went back to flying then retired years later. About two years into his retirement he relapsed and fell down a flight of stairs and died.

Posted by: mtnmom April 27, 2019, 6:16 PM
Like SallyAnna, by functioning I mean job/home/etc. I unfortunately know a few people who don't have addiction problems but still cannot function as they should - bad relationships, finances, etc.

Not functioning is blaming everyone else for their crazy train to crazy town!

Posted by: Sallyanna April 27, 2019, 7:39 PM
I think the incidence of addiction is much higher than what is estimated. It's everywhere, every profession, every socioeconomic group etc....I just wish it got the attention and resources it should have for being so prevalent. I think it's highly neglected.

Posted by: Sallyanna April 27, 2019, 7:40 PM
It's a MAJOR health crisis in our society

Posted by: samegame April 30, 2019, 10:57 AM
It is more prevalent but at least it's more openly talked about. And better reported/categorized.

Remember modern society used to tolerate day time drinking/drunk driving and smoking anywhere. I remember seeing those things phased out and called out for what they were. A danger to health. Now people are seeing things legalized and are conflating legal with ok or harmless.

It's not so much genes but experiences when families and peers come from the same environment, habits, customs including unquestioned or controlled drinking.

Again though at least it's more talked about which makes it easier to recognize and change.