Alcoholism costs more than money

A daughter and her father whose battling addiction

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Alcoholism costs more than money

Michelle Collins

Michelle Collins

Michelle Collins

Zoe Goddard, Times Staff

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For a better part of his life, my father has dealt with alcoholism. Though I love him, it has been really hard on me since I was a child. I made him sit in a folding chair in the middle of my room. Across from him with my laptop. I asked him what the Bay Area was like when he was a child.

“It was good I mean. But it’s different from when I grew up. It was slower. Weather was good. I didn’t realize growing up how cheap the cost of living was back then.” My father has lived in the Bay Area for most, if not all, of his life. He was born in Gilroy in 1974 to his parents who would later end up getting a divorce. Both his parents would remarry people who have kids of their own.

I took a sip of my coffee and asked the next question, “What do you remember most about your childhood?”

“Skateboarding” I had to refrain from rolling my eyes over my father’s obsession with skating “I started around when I was 7. I remember when we first moved to this side (south side San Jose) all the kids would play hide-and-seek and my friend Max and I would jump off roofs with fake parachutes. We’d also ride bikes all day and make sure we got home before the streetlights were on” I laughed because my mother would let me play outside all day long, but I had to be inside before the street- lights came on.

“Baseball was also an important part of my life.” He played baseball until he injured his wrist.

I sighed a bit and looked at him. “Are you ready for the hard questions?” I asked.

“Shoot.” he replied.

“When did you start drinking?” He shifted a bit in his chair but answered anyway.

“Eleven is when I got drunk for the first time. But (I) didn’t start really drinking till 8th grade. Would go around ‘shoulder tapping’.” Shoulder tapping means him and his friends would stand outside of drug stores and ask adults to buy them alcohol. “Your uncles and I would break into your grandpa’s liquor cabinet. I wanted to be cool.”

My father is the youngest of all his siblings including his step brothers and step sister. Most of the stories he told me since I was little would be him trying to show his older brothers that he was as cool as them, even if they weren’t actually that cool at all.

My Father said he had tried every drug you can think of except for Special k, and Peyote. Peyote is a Cactus that makes you have hallucinations. Native Americans use it in rituals.

“Do you remember ever being extremely under the influence around me when I was younger?”

“No, not totally. But yeah I was buzzed or hungover a lot when you were a toddler. You said ‘daddy’s sick again because he drank a lot.’” He says that, but there is a time he was extremely drunk in front of me.

My mother was pregnant with Dylan (my middle brother) when she realized my dad had an is- sue. Even after he went away for a while and came back I don’t think it really hit me that he was dealing with alcoholism until he came back home.

“What is the one thing you regret the most after one of your benders from when you were a teen or young adult?” I asked.

“Never got caught. I regret one time I’m at home, I’m in my room. I had a bunch of speed and meth and high on weed. And your grandparents rushed in and found all my drugs.” He started to say how it should have been a sign when Nana and Pop didn’t get him help that things would get worse. “Got kicked out a month later and it did get worse.”

“You were sober for almost five years up until recently. Would you like to give any information why or how you think it could have been avoided?”

“Yeah, about 8- 9 months ago I started smoking weed and your mom caught me with it. And I felt guilty around the guys at City Team (Rehab group in San Jose). That was the little window that let the devil in, and it went downhill slowly from there. I could’ve not started smoking pot and talked about the dark thoughts I was having. If I talked about it I wouldn’t of done it. It caused me shame and guilt.”

I remember the day I got home from work and my dad asked if I could drop him off at City Team so he could check in and get clean. I was so angry.

He had been doing so well and the fact that he just would just go back to his old ways made me lose some trust in him. I remember crying as I was driving away.

I asked my final question, “Are there any last comments you would want to say?”

He tries to make a joke that I don’t quite re- member. I know it sucked. “I think during my early adulthood from 18 – 22 the drinking and drugs were a way of self-medicating. ‘Cause of my ADHD.

And after it became a habit. I have the disease of addiction. Once I start I can’t stop.

I believed I needed the weed to calm my mind. I think I’m just a drug addict through and through. Well no, I’m just a recovering one.

I have some screwed up wounds.”