Is alcoholism contagious? Can it be inherited? Did my behavior affect my children?

Jack, 50’s

Growing up, drinking was a favorite family pastime. Everything that we did included alcohol; when something bad happened, my parents drank. When something good happened, my parents drank. When nothing happened, my parents drank. When I turned 15, I started drinking, too, and once I started, I just couldn’t stop. My parents might as well have replaced my bottle with a six pack.

My dad was the one who really had a problem, and my problem was that I looked up to him. Seeing him behave that way made it seem as if it was alright for me to do the same. I idolized him even when he came home so drunk that he’d piss the bed and I’d have to help my mom change the sheets and turn the mattress over the next day. He was a man, and that’s what men did in those days. I don’t even think he thought about the effect his behavior had; he just went to work every day and kept the family fed, and he figured he was doing alright by us.

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