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Audience: Parents who are raising a family and have a drinking problem Will R. Riley Professor Bonnie Moore English 2010 PRE Nov. 26 2013 The Journey of Alcohol Before World War II Grandpa Arnold drank causally. He actively served in his church and community. But life has a way of throwing us curveballs and it is what we do with them that determine the type of people we are. Arnold served his country proudly in the Navy as a Frogman, or what we know today as a Navy Seal. In those days their responsibility was to make it safe for the incoming soldiers that would be fighting on the pacific islands during World War II. On September 12, 1944 Arnold fought in a vicious battle for the Palau Islands near the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean. The battle raged in temperatures over 100 degrees (Jensen). He was fighting an enemy who fought to the last man. It was dishonorable for a Japanese soldier to surrender. It is very difficult to place oneself in the shoes of others, especially in the shoes of a veteran. So unless we were actually there to see and hear the bombs and artillery shells go off, smell the smoke, and feel the ground shake. We can only imagine as we try to begin to understand what they went through. We can ask questions, do interview and try to picture the scenes. I did not have an opportunity to interview Arnold, but I did have a chance to interview my dad who is also a veteran. Based on this interview I feel Arnold’s experience would have been similar to this. My dad shared his experience of war as a terrifying fear. An adrenalin rush over takes a person’s body. Physically their heartbeat kicks into overdrive, their senses become more alert. Their bodies become tenser, knowing that there is someone that is trying to kill them.


Mentally there are many thoughts in their mind. A very prevalent one being that this may be their time to leave this mortal life. The fact that another person wants to kill them and if they what to stay alive they will have to take someone else’s life. Visually there is a horrifying scene created, there is dust flying in all directions, a smoky haze is accumulated due to bullets being fired and artillery going off. There are noises that one cannot image, officers yelling out orders and soldiers screaming for their life (Riley, James). The battle for the Palau Island resulted with the highest causality rate of any amphibious assault. Out of the 28,000 soldiers involved 40% were killed or wounded (Jensen qtd). After World War II General Clifton B. Cates suggested that the battle for the Palau Islands was one of the most vicious, stubbornly contested and least understood battles of the war. After this horrifying experience Arnold suffered from “battle fatigue” or what we know today as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD a debilitating anxiety disorder that occurs after experiencing a traumatic event that involves a threat of injury or death (Jensen). To find relief many soldiers turned to drugs, alcohol, or even suicide. My Grandpa Arnold turned to alcohol and with time became an alcoholic. This addiction to alcohol had a dramatic effect on his health and his lifestyle, he became withdrawn and isolated. This addiction to alcohol spread like cancer which had a debilitating effect on his family. Parents with an alcohol addiction need to know the effects it has on their body. Parents need to set a better example for their children because children living in this type of environment are less successful, and have more financial, social, and emotional problems later on in life. Parents need to realize that there are many solutions to recover from alcoholism, one of them being Alcoholics Anonymous. Scientific studies have shown there are some health benefits to drinking. In a newspaper article titled Say Cheers! To Drinking, it states that the most beneficial effects of drinking


alcohol is heart health. Research has linked moderate drinking to a 25 to 40 percent reduction in risk of coronary heart disease. It has also been proven to lower the risk of atherosclerosis which is the hardening of the arteries. Moderate drinking is one of the only dietary practices that increase HDL, which is the good cholesterol for the body (Golub). Despite the benefits, in my researching process I have come to believe otherwise. The effects of alcohol on the human

body are breath taking. Researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases. “Alcohol does all kinds of things to the body,” Says James C. Garbutt, an MD Professor. Individuals who are heavy drinkers are at an increased risk of cancer, especially in the liver. Heavy drinking makes blood platelets more likely to clump together into blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. Drinking has a major effect on the brain as well. As people get older, their brain shrinks; this is a normal process of aging. But heavy drinking increases the speed in which your brain shrinks, resulting in memory loss and possibly dementia (Shoemaker). And that is not all. Heavy drinking can cause a disease known as cardiomyopathy which weakens the heart muscles, allowing the heart not to pump properly and can cause loss of consciousness. If not treated immediately it can result in sudden death (Balancing Alcohol). Arnold was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 1973. Eventually he visited a well-known heart surgeon, Russell M. Nelson who performed open heart surgery. The surgery was successful, but after this operation Arnold died ten years later from complications at the age of 62. Alcoholism takes a toll on the body physically, but it also takes a mental toll. It is well known that alcoholism is linked to depression, but which causes which? A study in New Zealand shows that heavy drinking leads to depression, and once an alcoholic is on the road to recovery, the depression improves drastically. However while the use is still indulging, many


relationships are damaged along the way.

Not only did alcoholism effect my grandpa’s body, it

also had a dramatic effect on his 2 children in both positive and negative ways. There are studies that have shown that parents using alcohol are able to provide effective parenting techniques, and in many cases this is true. However in my research I feel that there is more evidence that shows that the impacts of parental alcohol use can affect children negatively both physically and emotionally from as early as birth. There have been studies suggesting that children of parents with an addiction to alcoholism live in a much more chaotic, stressful environment, struggle more in school and are less sociable. In addition, children of parents with an alcohol issue are often at an increased risk of experiencing poverty and financial stress. In a research paper, Who Cares? It specifically explores the relation to how young people describe their lives and the impact of their parent’s addiction to alcohol. The research found that many of the parents with this addiction were unable to watch their children. An eleven year old boy recounts the following, “ I started worrying because dad started not being around when I got home, and he wouldn’t tell me where he was going, 7 o’clock would come around and I would freak out, and 8 o’clock came around…I got scared… I didn’t like being at home by myself” (Moore et al). An eleven year old boy should not have to grow up in those conditions. Many young people of alcoholics lack confidence, have poor mental outcomes, and lack of hope for the future. “A sixteen year old boy, in the same study as the eleven year old boy explained, “I got really sick of trying to look after them all and then I got mentally ill really bad and tried to do the whole suicide thing. And it was really hard to look after two young children and your parents, and then at the same time trying to look after yourself, having a social life and doing all the things you should be doing” (Moore et al). When discussing their alcoholic parents and the effects it has had on them, many children or teenagers talk about having a difficult time in


school. A 16 year teenager discusses her experiences, “I couldn’t really do my school work, and I had a lot trouble in my school work. I was in a special class because I just couldn’t concentrate. When I got home I couldn’t get help with homework. If I didn’t understand it, there was no one to help me. And I tried to explain it to my teacher, but sometimes it was like, well you could’ve come to us for help, but they didn’t really understand” (Moore). These testimonials illustrate the effects on children when parents have a drinking problem. My grandpa Arnold wasn’t constantly drinking his life away, but he did have a problem with drinking, and to a certain extent it did have an impact on how his two children were raised. When you are younger you don’t always realize your parent has an addiction because it may be all you know. But as you grow and see other people’s families, you start to realize that things in your family are different from lifestyles in others. My mom realized her dad had a drinking problem when she was in the sixth or seventh grade. Arnold only drank at certain times of the year, Christmas, the deer hunt, and the opening day of fishing season. When Christmas came around, she would get a terrible stomachache. She would go to the Christmas Eve party, sit there and worry that when she went home he would come home from the car dealership and start drinking. It wasn’t hard to tell that he was drunk, his whole demeanor would change. He would go on a binge, where he sat around and drank, Four Roses was his favorite. He didn’t have any buddies or anything, just himself. He wasn’t mean or anything he just sat there and drank. Of course the other car dealers liked this that he wasn’t at the selling lot, so they would get more sales. During these times my grandma Helen and Arnold would go deep into debt. My mom’s bedroom was very close to theirs, during night time Arnold would have terrible dreams. She figured they were about the war. He would holler out all kinds of profanity. Words that she feels are not appropriate to write, but he always said the word “Jap”. It is kind of


ironic because when he was recovering from health problems it was a Japanese doctor that helped him and even spoke at his funeral. She became very good at hiding his whisky. Sometimes she would dump some out of the bottle, and add water to bring it back to the same level. Also the toilet tank was a good spot to hide a Fifth. In school her math teacher told my grandma at parent teacher conference she could always tell in her lessons when Arnold was drinking, but she didn’t know about that. Math wasn’t my mom’s best subject and besides her math teacher worked in the liquor store. The deer hunt was also another worrisome time. Her dad would always come home drunk. It would be a two week process for him to sober up. This was the cycle for my dad for many years. After a while he couldn’t sober up on his own, so my grandma would call the sheriff and he would come and take Arnold to jail for a few days. This helped for a while then finally he ended up in the hospital (Riley, Sheila). For my mother this environment became tough to grow up in. Remembering these childhood experiences were not easy for her, but it taught her some very important lessons later in life. For example she knew how important it was in choosing a spouse that did not participate in addictions such as alcohol. She gained a greater understanding of how important it is to raise a successful family, and set an example to her children. Also she gained a greater understanding of how important it is to be financially stable and always have money on hand. She recounts a story of her mother and her going to a financial institution or what we know today as a pay day loan. Her mother took out a 100 dollar loan so that they could go on a family vacation to Fish Lake. During their trip her father would then become drunk, in doing so taking “family” out of family vacation (Riley, Sheila). Although growing up around the negative effects of alcohol, my mother learned what she wanted and made decisions that would spare her own children the


experiences she had as a child. However, based on my research she was an exception. Much of the time growing up around alcohol has a negative effect on people. As stated, Arnold had two children, my mother Sheila and my uncle Bobby. Living in these conditions as a child with an alcoholic father had a major effect on Bobby and still has an impact on his life today. In high school Bobby was very talented in sports as well as in academics. Bobby never had to study to get good grades, due to the fact that everything came easy to him. Among his group of friend in his youth the popular thing to do was to party with alcohol. Bobby, not having a good example to look up to in his family chose to party. His first bad encounter with alcohol was during the basketball season, where he was caught drinking with his friends. As a consequence to this, he was kicked off of the basketball team. After high school he quickly married and began to raise a family, and eventually had four children. While raising his four children, the experiences from his childhood effected the way he parented. He continued to be a bad example to his children, causing much chaos, and martial problems. All of these problems can be traced back to his drinking problems. Still to this day Bobby struggles with alcoholism. He struggles financially, and cannot hold a decent job. There have been many times that he has called my mother asking for money. He has been married and divorced three times, he has never settled down and raised a family with certain values that are important to have success in life. As we can see Bobby had a very tough life, although he was blessed with many talents he neglected to utilize them to become successful. I know that growing up with his father’s drinking problem had an impact on how successful Bobby was in life. Based on my research I discovered that some of Bobby’s effects of growing up in an alcoholic home have been proven to be true. In a book titled Adult children of Alcoholics, the author Janet G. Woititz explains 13 characteristics that adults will have, as a result of living in an


alcoholic environment. Some of these 13 points I have notice in my uncle Bobby. The second characteristic states, those adult children of alcoholics have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end (Woititz). Bobby has never been able to follow through on many things in life, for example he has never been able to hold a steady job. When he finds a job he is not able to follow through with his responsibilities. Therefore he lacks the ability to be financially stable. There have been times that he will call my grandma asking for money. The seventh characteristic explains that adult children of alcoholics have a difficulty in intimate relationships (Woititz). Bobby having been married 3 times and now single, very easily proves this characteristic to be true. Adult children of Alcoholics says that all of these characteristics can be traced back to living with alcoholic parents. I do believe that there are many solutions to this problem, and one of these solutions is to know and understand the importance of Alcoholic Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a group who share their experiences, in sharing their experiences they hope to solve common problems and help each other recovery from alcoholism. There is just one requirement to become a member, a desire to quit drinking. The goal of this group is to help others achieve sobriety, another bonus to joining Alcoholics Anonymous that it is free to join. This program is based on a 12 step program with principles such as admitting that you have a problem, believing that you can change, setting goals, making decisions, and having God play a role in your life (About AA). To find an AA group is a very simple process. It includes looking on the AA home web page clicking an icon “find an AA near you”, select your state and find a time that meets your schedule. I attempted to find an AA group. It took me a matter of 5 minutes. I found an AA group 20 minutes from my house.


Grandpa Arnold attended an AA group in the city of Provo, Utah. He actually lived in housing provided by the AA. During his time in AA he gradually made a recovery, and got his life straightened out. After his experience in AA he never touched a drop of alcohol. Arnold made a complete 180 degree turn, he was able to become very active in his church that he attended, and was able to provide for his family. There are many parents that have drinking problems, and it is very possible to get their life back in order though many solutions. One of them being The AA Program. Many individuals become addicted to alcohol in different ways, for example individuals fall into peer pressure, drinking helps individuals forget about problems, or it makes them feel more sociable. For Grandpa Arnold he suffer from battle fatigue in World War II, which led him to drink and almost throw away his life. Due to poor decision making, his life threw him a huge curveball. This curveball had a dramatic effect on his health. Not only his health but, also on his family. Making it very difficult for his children to live a normal healthy life. Through joining The AA Program Grandpa Arnold was able to make a full recovery and get his life back together. Life will always throw curveballs at us, and it is how we deal with them that will determine the type of person that we want to become.


Works Cited “About the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step Recovery Program.” Recovery. n.p. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013 "Balancing Alcohol's Unique Mix of Health Benefits and Health Risks." Environmental Nutrition 32.5 (2009): 3. Alt HealthWatch. Web. 6 Nov. 2013. Golub, Catherine. "A Toast To Better Health? The Heart May Say Yes, But The Head Hesitates. (Cover Story)." Environmental Nutrition 24.2 (2001): 1. Alt HealthWatch. Web. 6 Nov. 2013. Jensen, Dennis. “Trying to Understand and Help Others.” Print. 28 Oct. 2013 Moore, Tim, Debbie Noble-carr, and Morag Mc Arthur. “Who Cares? Young People With Parents Who Use Alcohol Or Other Drugs Talk About Their Experiences With Services.” Family Matters 85 (2010): 18-27. Academic Search Premier. Web. 22 Oct 2013 Retelny, Victoria Shanta. "Say Cheers! To Drinking (Moderately)." Environmental Nutrition 34.12 (2011): 1-6. Alt HealthWatch. Web. 6 Nov. 2013. Riley, James. Personal interview. 31 Oct. 2013 Riley, Sheila. Personal interview. 10 Nov. 2013 Shoemaker, William. "Alcohol's Effects On The Brain." Nutrition Health Review: The Consumer's Medical Journal 88 (2003): 3-16. Alt HealthWatch. Web. 6 Nov. 2013. Woitiz, Janet G. Adult Children of Alcoholics. Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communication, Inc. 1983. Web