Death in the Family Leading to Alcoholism

On two occasions in life I have experienced a death in the family which led to full-blown alcoholism. The first was when my father passed away. The second was when my mother died.

Dad died when I was at the young age of five. The memories I have of my mother afterwards is that she was always sleeping a lot. She would tell me that she was sick or really tired. I was too young to know that in actual fact, she had consumed so much alcohol that she could not function.

Is it possible that a death in the family can lead to someone becoming an alcoholic? I speak from the voice of experience, yes. In both cases in my life the pain of loosing a loved one was so intense that it sent an already borderline alcoholic over the edge. You could say the traumatic event was the icing on the cake.

The good news is that in both instances where someone died in our family, the people who became addicted to relieving the pain through alcohol consumption, both found AA and are well to this day.

The second life altering death was when mom passed away suddenly from a heart attack. At this point, she had been sober for nearly twenty years… Now it was my turn to face an already looming addiction to alcohol. To say the least within six months from her death I walked into my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting because I had turned to alcohol consumption to ease the pain.

In both instances of death in the family, I believe that the people who began to drink more were led to do so because of the intense pain of loosing a loved one. Sadly though, once I got sober, I had to face those feelings without being able to numb the pain. Fortunately for me the AA program provided the loving care and advice that was needed to get me sober and to keep me that way.

My recovery after experiencing a death in the family was rough because my mother was my best friend. After getting educated about alcoholism, I realized that the disease was in my genes and I was actually destined to have the struggle whether someone had died or not.

You may be thinking that I am just blaming my alcoholism on the death of a family member. Perhaps you think I am just making an excuse for my bad behavior. No. I am certain that it was the sadness and pain of loosing a loved one that sent us both over the edge. Granted, even though having a death in the family is no excuse to pick up a drink, it was the way that we both chose to lesson the initial pain.


1 comment to Death in the Family Leading to Alcoholism

  • Debbi

    I absolutely do not believe you are blaming your alcoholism on a death in the family. It looks like alcoholism may run in the family based on your mother’s alcoholism but you were smart enough to recognize that and get into recovery right away. That takes great courage.

    I also do believe you are on to something about a death causing someone to go over the edge into alcoholism or any other major life upheaval could do the same thing. I saw a change 5 years ago with my ex alcoholic husband when his father died and shortly after his best friend passed away suddenly from a heart attack. At that point I saw the drinking go from moderate to heavier every day and the abuse towards me caused the end of our marriage. As far as I know he has never entered any recovery except some counseling that I believe was also for a porn/sex addiction that also developed.

    I have been searching for the answer of what the change was that caused my loving husband to turn so nasty towards me and commit adultery & your post has actually opened my eyes to something I forgot about so thank you so much for your post.

    I applaud you for your recovery and sorry for the loss of your mother who you were so close to. But your mother left you a great legacy–she showed you you can recover from alcoholism and live on to be a tribute to what she taught you!

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