Alcoholism is a disease and it’s passed on from parent to child. I was born with the gene because there are drinkers on both sides of the family. I firmly believe this: I was born an alcoholic — it just took a while to find the alcohol.
I was eight or nine when I had my first drink during one of my parents’ parties. Everyone around me was drinking and I just wanted to know what it was all about. I started drinking on a regular basis — once or twice a week — when I was 13. I started dabbling in drugs at 14. I was a full-fledged alcoholic and addict at 15.
My father retired from the Army and things went downhill quick. My parents split and my mom and sister moved out. My mom was the disciplinarian. I stayed with my dad. He was working all the time so there was very little adult supervision. I remember one night — we were sitting in the living room, watching TV. My dad was smoking and I don’t know what got into me but I just reached for his packet and lit one up. And he kind of just looked at me, sized me up. And he nodded at me and went back to watching TV. From then on, I started smoking on a regular basis. Hell, my dad was buying me the smokes. I guess he didn’t think it was a big deal.
When I was around 18, I realized I was dealing with more than just addiction. I was dealing with depression, which is still something I’m working out. I’d always had small “occurrences” when I just didn’t feel right. But that turned into spending days in bed, sleeping 20 hours a day, not eating, isolating, not working. I felt useless and worthless and extremely sad — like, what’s the point? I’ve had suicidal thoughts. This past spring is the closest I’ve ever gotten. I don’t own firearms for that reason: because I know that’s how I’d go. I get down and if there was a gun at hand, I’d want to try something.
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