Alcoholism In Families

“Our dad and mom’s alcoholism predicted my brother’s and mine.  We never had a chance.  To be anything but alcoholics.  And addicts.”  Months before he died suddenly from a ruptured aorta.  My late cousin. 25 years sober from alcoholism and drugs.  Reflected on his family.  And his childhood.

His comments, at first, perplexed me.  I knew very little.  Almost nothing about his childhood. Or alcoholism.  I assumed his was like mine. Nothing unusual.  School.  Then college.  In reality.  Our families were different.  As night and day.  Besides. What does our childhood have to do with who we are today?  Or how our children turn out?

My cousin’s parents, my aunt and uncle, got married at 21.  Had four kids. Oldest sister, my age. Oldest brother, my brother’s age.  My cousin.  And a younger sister.  Their family seemed just like us.  On the surface.  Only two kids more. They lived in Missouri.  We lived in Ohio.  

Growing up, we got together one day each summer.  Their family was full of energy, kind of chaotic and very loud.  Our family was quiet, orderly and sort of boring.  We really liked being around them.  

Years later when my cousin started talking about himself and his family.  I knew nothing about alcoholism.  I sure didn’t know my uncle, aunt, and both males cousins were alcoholics.  Growing up.  I remember my folks saying,  “My aunt and uncle sure like their beer.”


My oldest female cousin. Not an alcoholic.  Married three times and divorced twice.  Her only child.  A boy. Addicted to marijuana.  Arrested for it.  My oldest male cousin.  Became a bad alcoholic and drug addict.  Died at a young age from it.  My youngest female cousin. Married a great guy.  Former minor league baseball player.  Died way too young.  Had two children. She smoked a lot.  Still does.  

My late cousin told me.   In high school, each weekend.   His dad, mom, brother and he polished off four or five cases of beer.  All smoked like smoke stacks.  

Not surprising.  Four of my cousin’s children.  Had problems with alcohol and drugs.  


My late cousin had a son, while drinking and drugging.  But then he stopped.  Got into recovery.  And raised his son. As a clean and sober father.  His son’s happily married.  Two teenage daughters.  In college.  Got a great job.  All because his dad, my cousin, changed his family’s’ story.  Stopped drinking and drugging.  Got sober and into recovery.

Parent Goal:

Start now.  Before you have children. And even now with your teenage children.   Look back at your childhood.  Does it predict problems with alcohol and drugs?  If it does.  Stop drinking.  Stop smoking.  Cigarettes.  Or marijuana.  Set an example for your kids.  Yet to be born.  Or in their teens.  Great parenting starts with you.

And always tell your kids, at any age, “I love you and I’m always here for you.”



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