The Impact Alcoholic Parents Have On Entire Families
Edward McEntire looked like your typical happy grade schooler in the 1960's.
"At the moment, it was normal," McEntire said. "I didn't see any difference."
But McEntire's childhood was anything but normal.
"My stepfather wouldn't let me go to my friend's house to see what normal was," McEntire remembered.
Raised in a home where alcohol was the center of attention, both parents drank heavily and often.
"One minute he would be very nice," McEntire said. "The next moment he would be extremely violent. I wasn't allowed to talk about my feelings or have any kind of emotions."
As a result, the same poisons haunting McEntire's childhood became an outlet for his emotions as an adult.
"It allowed me to tell you what I thought and it usually didn't come out appropriately," McEntire said.
McEntire spent years battling his own drug and alcohol addictions.
"Jail. Death. I was not going down a pretty road," McEntire said.
Edward McEntire's story is far too common. Studies show children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop a drinking problem than those who do not grow up with alcoholics.
Susie Armstrong counsels families with addictions at A Chance To Change. Father, husband and businessman Tony Say needed that help. He first walked into the doors at A Chance To Change 12 years ago.
"Alcoholics are very selfish people. That's how it was for me too," Tony Say recalled. "I was wrapped up in my own issues, my own problems and neglected my home life."
Susie Armstrong agreed, "The identified alcohol. All they focus on is getting their drink."
Armstrong said there are common traits in families with one alcoholic parent, "If the alcoholic is the father, the mother will focus on the father all the time, trying to keep them happy and also try to cover up the chaos."
Say remembered a turning point, "I came home one night and had been drinking, got into an argument with my wife. One of my daughters was crying and she asked me to please quit drinking."
Now sober 12 years, Say sees a difference in his relationships with his wife and daughters, "It's the kind of relationship a father and child should have. But it takes a while to get there."
It took time for Edward McEntire too. Several relapses and years later, he said for the first time in his life, he's happy in his own skin.
"You have to want it," McEntire said. "Not to get the family back. Not to get the job back. Not go get more money back. You have to want it for yourself. Better yourself in the process and eventually all that stuff will come back."
Edward McEntire has been sober 4 1/2 years. Tony Say is now the chairman of the board at A Chance To Change. His goal is to help as many people as possible.