The Face of Dispair

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a true essay about how a father's drug use affected his child.

The Face of Despair

I was sitting in a poolroom watching my team play last night. I had finished my match and was watching theirs. I became aware of someone coming to the stool next to me, but I was focused on the pool table in front of me. When I turned to pick up my glass of water I saw a young woman sitting next to me.  She smiled tentatively and I said hello and started to turn my attention back to the pool game. Then she started talking to me. My first impression was that she was drunk. She was carrying a drink in her hand and her voice was slurred. She was young, about 25 or so. About ten years older than my teenage granddaughter, thirty years younger than my daughter. She asked me if I was playing pool and I told her I had already finished. There was something about her that made me curious. She was attractive, with long blond hair and might have been beautiful if she were sober and well groomed, but she was not either of these. Sadness was written all over her face even as she smiled.

She started telling me about her life, I do not know why.  Perhaps I was like a grandfather figure to her.

“I hate my father”, she said. When I did not respond, she continued, “He’s a drug addict, I never want to see him again.”

I am a reasonably empathic person, and the fact that I once felt that way about my father struck a chord in me.

“The last time I saw him he pushed me away from him. He was on drugs.” I could see that she was trying to hold back the tears in her eyes. “I was only fifteen! I don’t need him, I don’t need any man, I’m independent!”

“What do you do?”

“I’m in finance.”

“Who do you work for?”

“Solar panels, I finance solar panels. I don’t need anyone, I don’t need a man!”

“That good, that you’re independent." It occured to me that she might be driving a car home, something that had to be avoided. "You're not driving, are you?"

'No, I had a DWI, I don't drive anymore. He broke my heart! I loved him and he broke my heart!  I never want to see hm again! I was only fifteen!”

“Is he still on drugs?”

“Yes, he won’t quit. I hate him! He want me to come home and take care of him, he says he’s lonely. I love my father!”

“Your mother’s not there?”

“She left a long time ago.”

“I don’t think you owe him anything, you have your own life to live. He ruined his, don’t let him ruin yours.”

“I hate him!”

A man about her age came over to us and told her he was ready to leave. He was sober and had a distressed look on his face. He told me his name and I told him mine. We shook hands and he then took her hand and helped her off of the stool. I watched as they walked out of the poolroom together. The fact that he did not criticize her or make any apologies to me led me to believe that had strong feelings for her.  I do not know her name, and I will probably never see her again, but I would like to think that they will have a good life together.

The brief encounter made me think about something I had never considered before, the effect that a parent’s drug abuse has on their children. There have been countless stories about drunk parents abusing their children, but I cannot recall any about drug addicts doing it. Considering the amount of addicts in this country that are parents, it must be a major problem. Why isn’t it being reported and discussed? I decided to find out what was being done about it. I googled it and found the Addict center online. What follows are excerpts from it.

“According to Psychology Today, 1 in 5 children grow up in a home where a parent abuses drugs or alcohol. Witnessing the trauma of a parent suffering addiction at a young age has long-term effects on the child.”

“Many are still impressionable while forming their identity. Additionally, teens who have experienced parental substance abuse are more likely to abuse substances in adulthood.”

“The effects of drug and alcohol addiction can be both short-term and long-term. Peaceful, loving homes can be divided by the strain caused by drug and alcohol abuse. Conflict becomes normal as family members fight...”

“Relatives may become more guarded if a relative abusing illicit substances acts with aggression or hides their disorder in secrecy. Marriages can end due to changes caused by addiction. Communication becomes more difficult, highlighting frustration.”

“Children growing up seeing a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to develop substance use disorders in their adulthood.”

“Early exposure to a home divided by drug use can cause the child to feel emotionally and physically neglected and unsafe. As a result, they can become more mentally and emotionally unstable. Children may develop extreme guilt and self-blame for a parent’s substance abuse. They may develop feelings of unworthiness for disturbances around the home or develop dysfunctional attachments in their adulthood.”

“Early exposure to a home divided by drug use can cause the child to feel emotionally and physically neglected and unsafe. As a result, they can become more mentally and emotionally unstable. Children may develop extreme guilt and self-blame for a parent’s substance abuse. They may develop feelings of unworthiness for disturbances around the home or develop dysfunctional attachments.”

I am not a doctor or psychologist, but you do not have to be one to see that the woman I talked to fits the above patterns almost perfectly. Anyone who thinks that drug abuse is a “victimless crime” should be made to see the affects it is having on this country’s children. How many generation’s lives must be ruined and cut short until we face these facts?


 [JH1]


Submitted: May 17, 2021

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