The Ascent from Darkness
As a teenager, the world around us can seem all-consuming. Life becomes a tangled mesh of confusion ranging from learning about one’s body, to the dreaded English essay, but when they go home life slows down. A sanctuary of sorts is provided by their parents. Unfortunately for some teens a dark little secret hides behind the closed doors of their home, alcoholism. Society has not acknowledged that there is a real problem with parental alcoholism. As a result, there are a lot of children that suffer in silence, destined to follow in the footsteps of their parents. There is hope, however, in a child’s resilience. Following down the same path as an alcoholic parent is a choice and with all choices there is another option. Let the darkness consume you or accept that you cannot change the past, but you have the power within to change the future.
Growing up in a household having to constantly “walk on eggshells”, one waits for the moment when their parent is going to explode. The worst part is the waiting. Physical wounds heal; mental wounds can be pushed to the back of the mind, but the waiting is a torture unseen. “Alcohol tended to make them [parents] more invasive, either in a violent or maudlin way, and was associated with parents angrily ‘flaring up’…” (Bancroft 12) They ask themselves everyday will this be a good day or a bad day. The worries that weigh on the mind of a teenager, no man or woman should ever have to bear. Teenagers with an alcoholic parent tend to become the proverbial loner. Avoiding social contact prevents embarrassment and fearing a parent will throw a drunken fit when friends are over leads many to not make friends at all. Isolating themselves from the outside world leads to anxiety and depression.
According to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Dr. Enoch Gordis, there are about 6.6 million children in the United States that have an alcoholic parent. Out of these children “41 percent will develop serious coping problems by 18 years of age…” (1) Dealing with the constant drunkenness of a parent affects not only the emotional state of the youth, but how well they do in school. Several studies have found that teens of alcoholic parents have lower test scores in reading and arithmetic. In some case some of the teenagers even failed high school. “Teachers have rated COAs as significantly more overactive and impulsive than nonCOAs” (Gordis 2) Along with the depression anger builds within a teenager causing them to become disruptive in class, and participate in fights.
Depression, low self-esteem, poor grades, and fear, does not leave one easily. For some alcoholism follows them into adult hood. “Children of alcoholics are 5.1 times more likely to report dependence symptoms related to substance use [alcohol] than children of nonalcoholics.[sic]” (Korsmeyer 1) As a teen becomes an adult, they may choose the same path as their parents. Marrying...