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Sobriety Deal-Breakers: By the Daughter of an Alcoholic

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Despite two rounds of treatment in 60 day inpatient rehabilitation programs, my Father continues to be a functioning alcoholic. Having had the chance to learn about the recovery process, it’s much easier to see how my Dad didn’t stand a chance. That is not to say that he can never get clean, but I do believe that there is a clear combination of factors both in his control, and out of his control that contributed to his relapse. In saying that, I do not think his time in rehab was in vain. I was able to take advantage of programs that were offered to family members of addicts. For the first time I was able to learn about my Fathers’ disease; what he had been going through, the recovery process, and how I can help. Looking back, I know this knowledge has helped me break down some reasons and why he is still not sober.

Choosing Treatment Without Wanting a Change

Life had come to a crossroads for my Dad when my Mom decided after 22 years of dealing with his addiction, that she’d had enough. She showed so much resolve that my Dad believed if he didn’t do something, he would lose her for good. So, he promised he would go to treatment if she would give him another chance. While going to rehab to save a marriage is a good thing, there was no desire for personal change. I believe one reason his first bout with treatment failed was because he was using rehab to manipulate my Mother into staying with him. This allowed him to coast through rehab, without making the effort that is necessary for long term sobriety.

Denial & Unwillingness To Take Responsibility

Whenever I visited him in rehab, it seemed like he was determined to convince me that he didn’t have a problem. Conversations were filled with talking about other patients, and how he wasn’t “as bad as” them. For example, he would talk about people with addictions to drugs like meth and heroin, or about how ‘so-and-so’ had been through rehab six times and can’t stay clean. I even had it on good authority that he had some close calls while in detox, but when I asked about it, he made it sound like it was a breeze. I even tried to have serious conversations about how his alcoholism affected me as counselors had suggested, but he would just deflect and try to make light of the situation. Call it the pride of a Father, but I believe his unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions is a reason for his relapse.

Lack of Family Support

My Father was given some information while in rehab that would give even the most conservative individual a reason to drink. While my Mom was visiting with my Dad, she delivered the devastating news that she wanted a divorce and was not willing to reconsider. He had been numbing his emotions with alcohol and self-medicating since he was 18 years old, so I cannot imagine how he could possibly deal with that kind of emotional trauma. The reason that he entered rehab had vanished and so did any ounce of desire to stay sober.

No Accountability After Treatment

Immediately following the completion of rehab, he had to move out of the house and into his own apartment. The divorce was finalized within six months. Me and my older brother were out of the house at college, and my sister was old enough to choose where she lived and decided to stay with my Mom. For the most part, my Dad was heartbroken and alone. He said that he was going to do group therapy sessions at a local church to keep him on track, but when I went to join him one day, I discovered that these sessions didn’t even exist.

Daughter of an Alcoholic

My Dad has been out of alcoholism treatment for almost two years. Despite many dinners that have concluded with him passed out on the couch, and phone calls that were spent trying to understand his slurred dialect; he maintains that he is clean and sober. While I am no expert, there are some valuable lessons to be learned from my Father. For successful recovery, individuals must have a true understanding of their disease, and have a desire to change their life. Introspection and honesty about their condition is imperative, and the support of loved ones is crucial during the recovery process.


Watch Patricia’s testimonial, and listen to how in her brokeness, saw the devestation of alcoholism and made the most important decision of her life. By saying “yes” to treatment at The Watershed and having the courage to commit to change, she is an example of hope.

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