I am a daughter of an alcoholic father who has been struggling with alcoholism for a long time. He joined the Mormon Church when he was around 19 years old. He has a strong testimony of the gospel, but still chooses to do things contrary to the teachings of the Church. He needs help but refuses to get any. Needless to say that my young brothers, sister, and mother are suffering because of it. (They are the only ones at home now.)
Soon after my father joined the Church he baptized his father, and soon after that my grandfather committed suicide. I knew my grandfather was an alcoholic too. But I found out not too long ago that he suffered from manic depression. As I found out about my grandfather I see that my father acts pretty much the same way.
I never met my grandfather; he died a little less than a year before I was born. But I feel that I knew him before I was born, and that I need to help my father and our family somehow. I am thinking that I just need to speak frankly to my father about the similarities and plead with him to get help. And tons of PRAYER of course. What do you think? I know that this is long but I admire you and your advice. I am curious about what you think.
Dear Little Pearl,
I imagine that if you pled with your father to get help he would not hear anything that he has not already heard many times from your mother and from others. However, I imagine that unless he does get outside help things won’t change much.
Family members of alcoholics often fall into the category of “facilitators.” Because of their love for and relationship with the person, they will believe in the sincerity of the declaration to quit drinking “after just one more.” The alcoholic will employ every ruse to con the family members into providing for that one last drink and accepting the notion that he is really going to quit–but not now. Although the alcoholic may want to quit, he is overpowered by the requirement of the body to satisfy the craving.
In order for him to graduate to the class of “recovering alcoholic” (and by the way, that’s as far as one goes; he will never graduate from the class of “recovered alcoholic”) at least two conditions must obtain. First, he must have a firm, inbound, overriding desire to quit. If he doesn’t want to quit, no other program will be of any benefit. Secondly, until he is in control of himself it must be impossible for him to get access to a drink. Isolation in some recovery institution is not always a requirement, but association with a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, is a necessity. He has already demonstrated that he can’t do it on his own.
There is no doubt that your prayers and the demonstration of your love and acceptance of your father as a person are powerful influences for good. However, your love and acceptance for your father should never be shown in such a way that it could be interpreted as acceptance of his habit.