Today I am proud to welcome Emma Haylett who grew up experiencing drug and alcohol abuse in the family and who now uses her experience to help others! Take it away Emma
Drug Abuse and the Abandonment of Spirit
Growing up, I didn’t realize there was anything different about my parents. Sure, they smoked in the garage, fought, eventually got a divorce. So did everyone’s parents, it felt like. I was in eighth grade and dealing with my own issues—how to make the cheerleading squad (I didn’t) and how to appear shorter than boys (I wasn’t). But hindsight reveals much.
While I dealt with adolescent problems, my parents were battling what would become potentially lifelong alcohol addictions, which signaled, for my father, an even darker journey. When my parents divorced, my father did fine for a while, or appeared fine from the outside. And then he moved to a house in the country where illicit activities were easier, and practically conducted themselves.
Here, my father spent a lot of time in the unattached laundry room, then the basement, then the faraway shop. It seemed weird and it smelled weird, but I as a middle school student who’d not so much as tasted a drop of alcohol. What did I know?
When my father was arrested for beginning to manufacture methamphetamines, I was floored. I’d guessed at the type of drug activity he’d been conducting, but meth? Breaking Bad had yet to popularize or, more accurately, glamorize meth, and for me, this was a very new concept. I didn’t realize how close my sisters and I had been to a potential explosion. Didn’t realize how the frozen chicken dinners worked to cover the smell of cooking drugs.
My father kicked his addiction because he was incarcerated. For others, more structured (and optional) rehabilitation is necessary. Facilities like Inspire Malibu offer luxury addiction treatment for addicts that desire a more private, extravagant recovery, and don’t follow 12 step models. Others (like Valley Hope) focus on the more traditional 12 step recovery. These rehabilitation options are excellent resources for some—for addicts like my father however, who desire independence and frown on the notion of group therapy, I fear they’d never work. Often, these places also focus on medication as a primary means of treatment. In my professional experience, it is the trio of mind, body, and spirit that make for the best recoveries.
And actually, I believe that my father’s abandonment of spirit may well be the reason for his continued addiction. While medicine and mindfulness are important, spirituality provides an opportunity for community and reflection. And spirituality doesn’t have to mean God—yoga, for example, provides an excellent way to deal with addiction, even for the recovered (or recovering addict).
As an adult, I’ve come to forgive my father for the things he did in my childhood. He is now a grandfather, kind and slower to anger. He’s an alcoholic, certainly—he still lies about drinking and gets irate when he’s drunk, but that’s a step up. For him, being a grandfather has been reason enough to (at least partially) exchange his drug addiction for one that is at least legal, though incarceration certainly contributed to kicking his meth habit. Which isn’t to say that his alcohol addiction is justified, merely more tolerable. And sometimes you have to pick your battles.
Emma Haylett grew up in a rural town she couldn’t wait to get out of. She now helps coordinate recovery programs for addicts and families of addicts.