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A man with salt and pepper hair holds a mostly empty bottle of hard alcohol to his forehead. He appears solemn and distraught.

Living With An Alcoholic Father

addiction alcoholism family Jul 10, 2023

Written by a CSUCI student.

You know, I always hear people talk about how a dad is a little girl's first true love and how dad will set the example of who their daughter will see as a potential partner in the future. I also always hear my family say how kids grow up so fast and they remember me running to the door when I would hear my dad get home from work. I really wish I could still remember that because I truly have no memory of it.

My dad is a functioning alcoholic. He works, he’s a business owner and has always provided anything necessary for the family. However, these past few years I have noticed my family slowly pushing my dad away, mainly my mom. I see how my parents don’t talk anymore, they don't go out to dinner anymore, let alone sleep in the same bedroom. They sleep in different bedrooms and I, a 27 year old, now understand how relationships work, so I know that my mom is not happy with him.

This is hard for the family but especially hard for me because I am the oldest daughter and I feel that as a daughter I shouldn’t push my dad away but I can't help but feel in distress when he’s around, and it makes me feel like the worst person ever. I can’t remember the last time I saw my dad sober. Every day he goes to the liquor store and buys beer and he hides it from me because he knows I will say something.

Did I mention we are Hispanic? That means there is a lot of machismo in my family and my dad is very machista (sexist). No one can tell him anything about his bad habits because to him, it’s his way of relaxing after a long day because he pays the bills. But he doesn’t just drink to relax, he drinks to get drunk and he blacks out almost every day! It’s hard seeing your dad not being able to walk straight from being so drunk and having to walk him to his bed and take off his shoes so he doesn’t fall from not being able to balance himself. It’s also hard smelling alcohol on him when you are just trying to go on with your day without dealing with someone else's problems for once. I mean just one day I would like to come home and not have to see him drunk or passed out in the garage, one day to just come home and see him actually have a healthy meal or do something fun that he likes.

He loves the Dodgers, and he knows people who also love the Dodgers but they never seem to want to be around him because of his alcoholic ways. It’s totally understandable though because his own daughter sometimes doesn’t want to be around him. It’s also very hard to bring my boyfriend around because his family is extremely close and seeing mine actually makes me feel kind of bad that this is his father-in-law. My boyfriend doesn’t care though. He says my dad has a sickness and he can't stop, which really makes sense to be honest because no matter what my dad just can’t stop drinking.

In 2020 my dad tried to go cold turkey. He stopped drinking all at once and unfortunately suffered from a seizure. It broke me and scared me so much seeing him on the ground shaking. I immediately called 911 and they rushed to my house. They asked me questions about him and I told them that he's an alcoholic and that I had noticed he had not drank for a few days. They took him to the hospital and gave him pills that would detox his body and fight any cravings. This did not last long, maybe 2 weeks, before he started drinking again.

During those 2 weeks I made it known that I liked having him around sober and I was making more of an effort to spend time with him so he could maybe think to himself, “Oh, my daughter is hanging out with me because I'm sober,” but that did not work. I offered to help him get into a rehab center, I made the phone call, I worked with the insurance, I got the money and all my dad had to do was show up and stay in this facility for 4 weeks. I constantly reminded him that it is a good facility, they allow visitors, they will provide you with anything and everything you need and I will take you there myself. The day before he was supposed to be checked in he decided he did not want to go, and I felt very disappointed in him, and I know he felt like he disappointed me too. At this point I have completely given up on helping someone who doesn’t care to get better for his children and family.

Due to alcoholism my dad doesn’t really have friends, his wife doesn’t talk to him anymore and is slowly pushing his kids away. I don’t think he realizes that his kids, including me, are growing older and we’re going to have grandkids one day and would love for him to be around to see that. He thinks he’s invincible and nothing will ever happen to him, but I am being realistic and it’s truly scary knowing something can happen at any second and I would hate for it to be due to his alcoholism.

My dad has also been diagnosed with diabetes. The doctors have told him repeatedly that he needs to cut down on the alcohol but he does not. One time he stopped drinking beer and turned to hard liquor instead thinking it wasn’t as harmful as beer, but that was even worse because he would get drunk way faster and it just caused the whole family to want to avoid him. I wish I could understand why this even started. I know both his mom and dad were alcoholics, so maybe that’s why. I have also heard how his dad was not the best dad and was also very machista and would talk down to my dad and his siblings, so I really believe that is one reason why my dad drinks but I don’t understand why he won’t just try to get help. Just try one time and see what happens.

I hope that one day he can see how much we all truly care for him and that we want the best for him because I know he doesn’t see it for himself. There have been so many times that I have had to ask my mom for help when I needed my dad because he was too drunk to be available. And now that I've grown up I've realized that is not someone who I would want my potential partner to be like; it’s everything I don’t want my partner to be. I feel that my dad thinks because he is the breadwinner that he is a good father, and he is a good father in some ways, but alcoholism has taken a huge part of him that would have made me look at him as the best father.

I hope one day my dad comes to his senses and is able to just take that leap of faith for his family because I know he would hate to really lose us all. It would be hard to watch my parents divorce even though they basically are already. They’re basically just roommates at this point. They have not talked or slept in the same room for about 2 years now. I am getting older and would love to start a family in a few years and I really want my dad to be part of my children's lives, but I do not want my kids around someone who has addiction problems because it’s just not something I would want my kids to be exposed to. So I am really praying that my dad comes to his senses one day and receives the help he needs and doesn’t run away at the first chance he gets.

I’m always afraid of what will happen next, not just with my dad, but they say alcoholism is hereditary and I am afraid that my younger brother could fall into those same habits. Alcoholism creeps up on a person. They don’t know they are alcoholics until someone lets them know they have a problem. My dad said he was about 18 when he started drinking and he is now 55 and hasn’t stopped since. I don’t want my brother or my sister to follow those same footsteps. I know how to take care of myself and I am not a big fan of alcohol, and that is due to my fear of becoming an alcoholic. I could not allow myself to ever go down that path. I have worked so hard to change habits and work on self love to avoid falling into bad habits.

For resources in Ventura County including help for addiction, visit Safe Choices Ventura County. For support in dealing with a friend or family member's alcoholism, visit Al-Anon.