Although most people may identify the 'drinker' in a home as the paternal figure, in my situation, it is my mother who struggles with alcoholism. It is an issue that has affected all levels of functions in my home and leaves us, the kids, with much confusion and disappointment in the crucial relationship between mother and child. I hope that through this article that you gain more insight into alcoholism, and perhaps, if applicable, begin to recognize your ability to make changes in your life.

Drinking, to be perfectly blunt, is purely selfish behavior

My mother began drinking several years ago. She has largely struggled with various issues throughout her life, and has either successfully found necessary methods with which to cope, or sadly, turned to other forms of "help". It started with wine at the dinner table, first several times a week, a little extra at the Shabbat table, and then every night. Not so unusual. Not enough to make anyone think twice. It's important to unwind a little after a day's work, so I must have believed. I don't remember when, and I don't remember why, but quickly it became more frequent, heavier substances, larger amounts, and it was then that my mother took a more non-present role in my, and her own, life.

I cannot begin to explain the pain and despair in knowing my mother is unable to deal with her own challenges and has to resort to oblivion from a bottle. It is difficult to feel loved, or believe the sentence "I love you" when it's heard from someone who may not be lucid, or will not be lucid in an hour or two. The reason, as I feel it, is because proclaiming love for another demands a level of selflessness, and drinking, to be perfectly blunt, is purely selfish behavior. As I said earlier, I don't mean to condone or criticize, and I know that everyone who struggles with alcoholism may have a thousand perfectly good reasons for why they resorted to this particular method of coping. But, I can't begin to reiterate how important it is for anyone —especially a parent—to learn to deal with their emotions in the proper forums and stop damaging their families and themselves with this insane habit.

It hurts. It hurts to see a mother "un-well", to hear someone vomiting in the bathroom, to hear slurred speech and crying, to find open bottles – empty bottles. It is difficult to respond to her interest in my life in moments of sobriety; I doubt her love, and I cannot trust it. I am nearing adulthood, and so I have my own methods of dealing with this issue in my home. I am saddened that I'm forced to have taken such a stance and that I feel the need to protect myself from my home environment. I am afraid to think of what would happen had I been ten years younger when this problem exploded. I'm almost certain that I or one of my siblings would have taken up serious drinking, and it very likely would have left us engaging in all forms of dangerous and promiscuous activity. I shiver when reminded of families who deal with an alcoholic parent's violent and abusive behaviors, and the brutal damage inflicted. The confusion and pain must be unbearable.

To anyone battling alcoholism, I implore you to seek help. It is perhaps the largest challenge you will face – exactly what you go to such lengths to avoid – and it will most likely force you to face demons you constantly lock away. There will be moments you won't feel capable of facing and you will be forced to resolve the relationships you've hurt as a result of drinking. I cannot fully understand the mind-frame of a drinker, and perhaps you may think that I'm naive in my hopes for a better future. Maybe you're right and maybe I don't know what can motivate a person to face reality once again, but I strongly believe that a) your children and b) the potential success and joy one will discover in taking control of his/her life again, can be more than enough to encourage a person to face their issues.

Your children are suffering. Whether they are consciously aware of your problem [and trust me, they are aware], or not – your child is in desperate need of your presence and attention. Please don't disappoint them. Parents are meant to love their kids. It is perhaps this awareness that may drive one to drink more, but I ask you to find the strength within yourself to keep this awareness with you and not lose it to a few more hours of oblivion. No one remains unaffected by alcohol abuse The destruction continues and nothing is accomplished. Please be proactive with yourself. I am amazed at the reservoir of courage people can find within themselves, and I beg you, for the sake of your family and yourself, dig a little deeper – seek help – in order to find this place. The reward is outstanding. There is no greater sign of love for your children, and respect for your spouse – and most certainly yourself – than this act of bravery and renewed self-control.

As for my own attitude towards drinking, I find myself in a place where I tolerate and enjoy friendly drinking in moderation, but I am completely against emotional drinking and alcoholism for obvious reasons. It took me a long while to get to this point. For a long time, I was angry about the unfortunate situation in my home, and I too – paradoxically, yet understandably – used alcohol to numb and forget the issues raging through my home and self. No one remains unaffected by alcohol abuse, and each involved person will respond in their own way. It is obvious that this problem will almost certainly be passed on if not dealt with appropriately. I thank G‑d that I had people who helped me see myself beyond these circumstances. I don't know where I'd be had I not had the resources to deal with it.

Please don't put your children into this situation. I'm sure the last thing any drinking parent would want for their child is to see them continue their destructive patterns. But only you are in a position to prevent that from happening. Please don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise, and please don't numb this awareness. The first step, and it is huge, is to face the reality, and then move forward with effective measures. It may take time, but it will be the most rewarding decision you could make for the sake of yourself and the people in your life.

I think we all know people who very obviously live with this problem, or some you may simply suspect are "over-doing it." It is a serious problem and can escalate extremely quickly dependent on rather simple circumstances. It is surprising to see the seemingly mundane scenarios that can trigger one to drink heavily. Please encourage those who may be struggling to deal with their problems in a healthier manner. They can use your support. Be it a spouse, child or friend, we have a responsibility to offer our help and attention, and as they have made the decision to recover, avoid shunning this person in their time of distress.

I wish you all much courage and success through your life journeys.