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9 more things people don't tell you about loving an alcoholic.

We're all in this fight together. You are not alone.

It seems like almost everyone has had some experience navigating the complicated waters of loving an addict.

Previously, I shared my story about growing up with an alcoholic parent. I confessed that I grew up as a child of an addict, and I shared a lot of honest and raw details about my life.


Me and my dad.

And when we shared the story with Upworthy readers, my inbox flooded with messages of people saying, “Me too.”

I couldn’t believe how many people related to my story. It’s like we gave people permission to start talking about secrets they’ve held in for years.

So I reached out to the daughters, sons, husbands, wives, and people who boldly shared their stories with me. I asked these people to share their truths — mostly unspoken before now — and to tell their stories about loving an addict.

Here's what they told me:

1. “I always felt [like] finding love outside my home would fix what was broken inside of it ... and it never did.”

Samantha told me about the time her mom tried to put a ponytail in her hair when she was in fifth grade. But her mom was too hungover to make it work. On that day, Samantha decided she didn’t need her mom anymore, and she clung to this mentality until she was 19 years old.

Instead, Samantha turned to friends and boyfriends to try to fix her broken idea of home. But they could never replace the love she needed from her mom. Samantha’s mom eventually decided to get help, but Samantha had to work through a lot of the anger she harbored toward her mom too.

Today, Samantha said: “I’ve since turned my relationship with my mom into something worth holding onto.”

2. “I’m still stuck in the ‘Don’t tell anyone’ phase.”

One reader, who asked to remain anonymous, said her family is still in the phase where they hide the dark secrets in their home. She said there’s only one place where she can talk about the truth: her diary.

As a "highly functional drunk,” her dad has held the same job for more than 45 years without anyone knowing his struggles. The disease has also been passed down, and now her siblings are racking up violations for driving while intoxicated. She desperately wants to understand how alcohol has so much power and control over her family.

3. Some people don't make it out of addiction.

I can’t give credit to just one person for sharing this devastating story because so many people shared this with me. I heard about many parents who battled for years with alcoholism and never recovered, leaving behind sons and daughters. It isn’t fair, that’s for sure.

Many of these courageous people are now trying to forgive their parents, even after they've passed away. These children are walking their own paths of recovery.

4. “I went to prison because of my addiction.”

Summer is an addict who is proud to share that she is now in recovery. At the age of 27, Summer went to prison for two and a half years after more than a decade of battling addiction. Once released, a caring probation officer helped her enter a treatment program.


Summer as a child. She started struggling with addiction when she was 14. Photo used with permission.

“I still have fears and doubts that I can make it through recovery and not relapse,” said Summer. “It’s a lifelong process that I’m learning each day.”

Summer is now a working mother, also studying to be a substance abuse counselor. New friends in recovery became family too, helping Summer find a new way of life. “They loved me until I learned to love myself.”

5. “I’m afraid that I’ll become an alcoholic and ruin my kids’ lives.”

As a 10-year-old little girl, Melissa thought her parents' drinking was all her fault. Then, she became a parent herself and felt all of the “what ifs” piling on.

Melissa said she often asks herself: “What if I drink? What if I can't control it? What if I end up making my kids feel like I used to?”

For Melissa, this is an ongoing battle. She has found support through therapy, which is helping her realize she isn’t to blame for her parents’ behaviors.

6. “My dad was an abusive alcoholic for years and it's still difficult.”

Rachel and her dad. Photo used with permission.

After years of living with an abusive alcoholic father, Rachel was left burdened with many issues. She told me she wants to find the words to explain how she feels after all these years, but it’s a struggle every day.

7. “My family’s recovery feels far away.”

“My mom is an alcoholic, but sadly is a long way from any sort of recovery,” said Dave.

Dave has loved his mother through all the difficult steps, like visiting many counselors and therapists for help. And as of today, as with many people I heard from, he says nothing has worked. He’s still waiting for the day when his mom will find her way to sobriety.

8. “I’m getting ready to marry into a family with addiction that keeps repeating itself through many generations, and it’s scary.”

Grace’s fiancé’s family struggles with generations of addiction. Her fiancé’s mother grew up with a violent alcoholic father, and Grace has had a hard time accepting how she can still love a man after he’s caused so much pain.

The disease has now been passed down to her fiancé’s immediate siblings. Grace said she’s still trying to grasp the depths of the impacts on a family for so many generations.

“We just have to try our best and accept that people will make mistakes,” said Grace.

9. “I became the recipient of my dad’s rage. For years, I felt like I was always walking on eggshells.”

Ashley’s father made numbing his pain a priority, causing Ashley to view the world through a very dark, untrusting lens. And now, although Ashley’s father has been in recovery for 10 years, she has had to come face-to-face with her own lifelong journey toward recovery too.


Ashley and her dad. Photo provided by Ashley, used with permission.

“I have to work a strong recovery program of my own so I do not continue to pass on the dysfunction and trauma to future generations of my family.”

Ashley recognizes that she learned to cope in dysfunctional ways, as she desperately fought for years for the love and approval of her father. But she says she’s bouncing back, learning to set boundaries and gain back her confidence.

The next time you think you’re alone in learning to love an addict, think again.

We’re all in this fight together. You are not alone.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Lizzo made history playing James Madison's crystal flute at her Washington, D.C., concert.

Imagine James Madison sitting in the White House during his second term as president. An enslaved Black servant delivers the president his dinner, which he eats by oil lamp as electricity wouldn't be installed until 19 presidents later. The War of 1812 rages. Most newspapers are still weekly, so news spreads slowly. There is no such thing as the internet, television or even radio.

Now imagine someone plops a laptop onto President Madison's desk and presses a button. On the screen—which is like nothing he has ever seen before—he watches a Black woman perform on a stage in front of thousands of people. Lights—which he's never seen—illuminate and reflect off her sequined bodysuit. She steps up to a microphone—which he's also never seen—and speaks to the 20,000 people in the audience.

Then she lifts up something Madison has seen and instantly recognizes—a crystal flute specially made for him for his second inauguration. The woman lifts the flute to her lips and plays. Madison is told this is happening approximately a mile away from where he sits, more than 200 years into the future.

Imagine him trying to process any single part of what he's witnessing.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

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