Carson had been a substance abuser since entering the military. He returned four years later, upon an honorable discharge from the army. He was one of 13 children and always a loving and devoted son to his parents.
Carson was reared in a very spiritual and loving family. He was very supportive, caring, and helpful towards his parents all while struggling with his personal drug and alcohol addiction. One afternoon after a day helping his mother and enjoying the afternoon with his parents, he walked out and told his father “I’ll be back.”
Passing of Time
Later that week Carson’s father, James, went into the hospital for a breathing treatment. His physician decided to extend his stay because the effects of a longstanding smoking habit were now exacting its toll. James’ lungs had been deteriorating for at least 10 years. After a week, James was no longer breathing on his own. His body was getting weaker and weaker and his lungs were no longer functioning properly.
Carson’s mother and siblings visited James several times throughout the week, until the doctor called and told them nothing else could be done for him.
James and seven sons all served in the military. “You never leave a wounded solider alone,” they believed, and the family gathered around James one last time as the life support was removed. He passed away early the next morning.
A week later when James was buried, Carson was absent. He missed his father’s illness and passing. Carson’s ex- wife, a police officer, went looking for him for the family. When she found him and told him that his father had passed away, Carson was in total disbelief. He remembered seeing a huge funeral possession going down the street and was so surprised by how long it was, not knowing that it was his own father’s funeral.
Immediately, Carson went home to find his mother and a single obituary in the china cabinet. Carson realized he had to live with this for the rest of his life.
Ever since that day Carson has lived with his mother and finally found healing in drug recovery. Carson has begun counseling for PSTD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and also grief counseling.
Alcoholism and drug addiction have obvious and well-documented effects on chronic substance abusers. Prolonged abuse of drugs and alcohol deteriorate a person’s physical health, impair mental functioning, and damage the spirit. These adverse effects also impact the immediate family’s finances, physical health and psychological wellbeing.
Family roles naturally shift to adjust to the behaviors associated with drug or alcohol use, and to continue maintaining order and balance. Including the addict, there have been six roles identified to understand how the family functions around the substance abuser. They are:
- The Enabler- Carson’s parents enabled his behavior by allowing him to come and go from their home knowing he was an addict.
- The Mascot-The Mascot was his sister Ann. This child feels powerless in the dynamics which are going on in the family and tries to interrupt tension, anger, conflict, violence or other unpleasant situations within the family by acting as the “court jester.” The Mascot seeks to be the center of attention in the family, often entertaining the family and making everyone feel better through his or her comedy. She may also use humor to communicate and to confront the family dysfunction, rather than address it directly.
- The Hero-The Hero in this family was Carson’s mother. This family member devotes his/her time and attention to making the family look “normal” and without problems. The Hero can mask or make up for the dysfunctional home life. Over-responsible and self-sufficient they are often perfectionistic, over-achievers and look very good – on the outside.
- The Scapegoat-The Scapegoat was Darry,l the troubled child. The Scapegoat is the “problem child” or the “trouble maker.” This family member always seems defiant, hostile and angry. The Scapegoat is the truth teller of the family and will often verbalize or act out the “problem” which the family is attempting to cover up or deny. This individual’s behavior warrants negative attention and is a great distraction for everyone from the real issues at hand. The Scapegoat usually has trouble.
- The Lost Child-The lost child was Carson’s brother Earl. This child avoids interactions with other family members and basically disappears. They become loners, or are sometimes very shy.
- The Addict-The Addict was Carson who spent many years fighting this demon inside of him. He felt trapped and worthless in his life. He wanted to stop the drug addiction but didn’t have the desire or motivation to do so.
No matter how old a parent’s child is, discovering that a child has an addiction can be an unpleasant, rude awakening. It may cause mothers and fathers to question their parental abilities or the decisions they made. Parents of addicts, much like children of addicts, often blame themselves for the development of the substance use disorder.
God is a forgiving God. We must be willing to forgive ourselves and grow from our mistakes. God can turn even the tragic addiction, and the grief-filled experience of losing his father into complete recovery and restoration.