Day 3: Sobriety Awareness – a student’s perspective

The World Health Organization defines sobriety as “a continued abstinence from alcohol and psychoactive drug use.”  Lebanon Valley College has designated October 3-6 as Sobriety Awareness Week.  Various events are planned to promote discussions on sobriety.  Click HERE for those events. 

Mike Fry’s FYE class is studying addiction.  Students were asked to write a story about something or someone who helped shaped one’s attitudes toward alcohol or drugs.

La Vie is posting the stories of six students, who all agreed to the publication of their submission.  These writings are unedited.  They appear as how they were submitted for the class assignment.

Day 3 My attitude was shaped by my family

By: an anonymous student


My attitude towards drugs and alcohol were shaped because of my family members. When I was little, my mom and dad always told me to never do drugs or drink.  I thought that meant that the people who consumed them were considered bad too.  I was afraid that my grandma, Uncle Mark and Mark, Jr. were bad people because they drank and did drugs.  My grandma has been addicted to pain medicine ever since she broke her neck.  She has fragile bones, and they would always break.  It all started when she went to see Dr. XXX.  She prescribed pain medication to her and still to this day she cannot live without them.  I grew up going to my grandma’s house on a regular basis  As I got older, the visits were reduced until I could not go over anymore.  Grandpa would tell me that “mother had a bad night.”  At first I thought she had a cold and was not feeling well.  When I was in middle school, I learned that grandma was not sick with a cold, she was high, and my mom did not want me to see her like that.  I lost count on how many times she overdosed.

After the first couple times, it got so bad that whenever someone told me that she overdosed, I was not that worried about her anymore.  I know it’s horrible to think like that, but I do.  It does not even surprise me anymore.  My family tried sending her to rehab.  They flew my grandparents out to Betty Ford Rehab Facility in California.  Grandma only lasted a week there.  She forced my grandpa to sign her because she hated it.  I believe if she stayed there longer she would have gotten better.  Her sobriety lasted a couple of days before she landed back in the hospital.  The hospital visits increased, and the PA Department of Aging got in touch with my mom to find out what was happening.  She had to beg them not to investigate and that she would handle it.  Mom told grandma and grandpa that they are under the radar of the Department of Aging.  They still do not see the seriousness of the situation.  Grandpa changed his number multiple times because people would try to sell him drugs.  I think he did that just so my mom would get off his back.  Somehow he still manages to find a way to keep giving grandma pills.  Whenever I hear this, I just want to scream on the top of my lungs!  I want to be furious at them and make it known how much they disappointed me but I cannot.  Each time I get close to speaking my mind, flashbacks of us having sleepovers and finding the hidden treasure around their house comes flooding back.

Drugs did not only ruin their lives, but they also ruined the lives of those who are close to them.  On many occasions, they had to cancel vacations because of the day that they were supposed to leave, “mother had a bad night.”  We were supposed to go on the Disney Cruise together.  On the day we leave, they call saying they cannot make it.  I knew how much grandpa was looking forward to this trip.  How could grandma do this to him?  How could he let this happen?  These are reoccurring questions that float around my brain that are left unanswered.  They always complain about how they are poor.  That is because they spend their money on buying pills.  If they would just stop, they would have a lot more money saved up.  What makes me angry is that they want my sisters and me to visit more.  Every time I go over, grandma is totally out of it.  When she is sober, she says that she is in so much pain.  The pain is from her body withdrawing from the drugs.  I refuse to spend my time over there when she cannot form a sentence.  Then grandpa would make up some excuse for her.  What makes me angry is that he tries to cover it all up.  Like he honestly thinks that I do know what is going on.  It just frustrates me because if he stops giving her the pills, then she would be sober more often.  Grandmas does not drive, and she would not know where to get the pills from.

Seeing my grandparent struggle with drug addiction makes me want to stray away from them.  My parents do not drink and do not do drugs.  My older sister does, but that is when she is out with her friends.  XX does not get drunk; she drinks responsibly.  My parents’ beliefs and values got pushed onto me.  I have no desire to drink or use drugs.  XXX helped me realize that just because someone drinks or does drugs does not make them a horrible person.  I have friends that struggle with addiction, and they are some of the nicest people you could ever meet.  I just do not agree with their choices.  I do not want to become like my grandparents.  I want to be able to lie my life to the fullest.  When I’m in my 80s, I want to play with my grandchildren.  I do not want to be cooped up in my bedroom because I’m too high to function.  It’s because of my family that I do not want to drink or do drugs.  I have seen and experienced what it so like to try to help an addict that does not want the help.  I’m too afraid of losing control of my body.  I have no idea of what I would be capable of.