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“My Mother’s Addiction”

A winning essay from our Brighter Future Scholarship contest

The thing about addiction that people may not realize, is it can be a camouflaged agent of poison: unnoticeable and kills slowly. Society today looks at addiction on television shows as obvious statements: people who weigh 600 lbs, people who fill their homes with endless collections, and people who eat strange inedible objects. But what if addiction is not so easily seen? I have seen first-hand what addiction is like, and it may not be as transparent as one would think. 

Growing up, my mom would enjoy a glass of wine once a night. This doesn’t seem to out-of-the-ordinary for people now-a-days. However, as we have gotten older and she is by herself at the end of the night, that glass of wine slowly turned into a bottle. My mother’s addiction to alcohol is apparent by all her family members, but not to herself. Maybe she doesn’t fully grasp what “addiction” truly means, maybe she doesn’t want to stop, maybe she is in denial about her ways, or maybe the answer is quite straightforward: she can’t stop. 

My mother’s addiction to alcohol doesn’t just affect her health and her mind, but it affects those around her who care for her. My brother, who still lives with my mom, gets the full effects of it. I can recall him messaging me on New Year’s Eve, asserting that she was “the drunkest [he] has ever seen her.” She wasn’t at a party, and she wasn’t drinking to celebrate New Year’s. She was simply drinking. When I found out that my mom would sometimes try to pick up my brother from work after having some wine, I immediately became concerned, and almost angered with her, that she would put my brother at risk. I offered to pick my brother up from work whenever needed, and this continues today. I would much rather have a late bedtime, picking up my brother from his job at 11 pm, than allow someone who has been drinking to drive him home. It isn’t worth it. When she gets very intoxicated, it is obvious. Her speech slurs, her mood changes, and she is not pleasant to be around. She will say things that she can’t recall in the morning, and text people from her past that she really shouldn’t. 

Despite all these circumstances, unfortunately, my mother still sees nothing wrong with her drinking. When she does acknowledge it and conveys a desire to stop, she simply can’t. The American Psychological Association (n.d.) defines addiction as “A state of psychological or physical dependence (or both) on the use of alcohol or other drugs” (n.d.). When my mom does attempt to “cut back” on her drinking, she complains that she can’t sleep at night without having a glass of wine beforehand. This is addiction, and I have accepted that my mom is an alcoholic.  

As a society, we glorify alcoholism without meaning to. I couldn’t even find a birthday card for my husband today without a joke on the cards about drinking wine or beer. As someone who never drinks, I find it difficult to fit in and partake in social events when they typically do involve drinking. Although my mother’s alcohol addiction has impacted both family members and me, it has also helped shed light on what addiction may look like. Although my mother drinks, she raised me well, has a steady job that she performs well at, and owns a house. When I used to hear the word “addiction,” I think I assumed that a person with addiction would be struggling to make ends meet, or they would do anything to get what they need to satisfy that addiction. This may be true in many cases, but my mother’s case just proves that addiction does not always make itself known to others right away. It lurks behind closed doors and can thrive in happy-faced people with careers or wealth. I have a better understanding of addiction and am more aware of those around me who may need support, and I plan to always extend that support to someone in need. 

My experience with having a loved one that is an alcoholic has really changed my perspective on addiction. Going into psychology, I am very interested in the brain and the way it works, and I want to gain more knowledge about various disorders, including addiction, and learn how to identify them and how I can support people with addiction. This scholarship would greatly help me with my studies and allow me to go to school to continue my passion for understanding the brain and how I can help others. 

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