My family has been damaged by alcohol, though only an insider could acknowledge the ways. Alcohol, when drunken in excess, is harmful to one’s self, family, and friends. I’m thankful that my mother and father had the wisdom to teach me that the lasting negative effects outweigh the immediate positive effects.

I have always known that my grandmother, a woman I respect and love, had a drinking problem. When I was younger and spent summers at her home in Denver, I would watch her sip wine from a glass that she kept with her and refilled all day. After our morning grocery shopping, my grandmother would take a trip to the liquor shop because she had to have several bottles on hand. She taught me the importance of reading and writing. She was patient while teaching me to set the table, but she was the first person I ever saw drunk.

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My family was eating at my favorite Italian restaurant and an awkward silence settled at the table as attention shifted to my end. I did not know how to act once I realized it was the habitual champagne that made this mannerly English teacher garble her speech. She made me repeat my sentences. Her eyes, wide and childish, stared blankly at me even then. She had no control over herself because she was not in her right mind. We quickly finished up business at the table and my grandmother was slowly led by hand to the car. She was usually so strong and independent , I had never her seen her so weak.

Throughout the years, my father has explained in snippets my family’s flaw. Alcohol has created pain and frustration in our family. His parents were also alcoholics who spent a large amount of their parenting years at the bar instead of with their children. Why did they feel the need to escape the reality of their lives and families? Maybe we should blame a physical addiction. I do not understand.

The next example is harder for me to share, for no other person is closer to me than my sister. She is a beautiful girl. She is intelligent academically and a charm socially. I envy her gold-streaked hair, defined facial features that bloom freckles when she sits in the sun. She gives comfort and advice whenever I call on her. She is the most precious person to me and I know that, in return, I am her highest priority. With a bond so tight comes a power over each other – like the power to frighten me or spill tears from my eyes.

One Friday night, my sister had been partying and drinking at her college in Louisiana. Feeling sentimental, she decided to call me. She was not listening to me as much as loudly repeated herself: “I love you! Don’t be disappointed in me!” What had she done wrong? She managed to talk about falling over and hurting herself. I could hear the traffic and people in the streets, but she did not know where she was. I shivered and sobbed and prayed simply because I had no control. I realized I could not protect my sister from her actions.

I asked myself, why does my sister have the need to drink? Why should anyone?

My story is not as dramatic as some, but it is relatable. It shows how drinking scars families and loved ones. Drinking often starts as a way to get rid of self-disappointment or disappointment in a current situation, so people need to control these issues before choosing to consume alcohol. Alcohol is the tool that creates larger issues. I hope that someday, my family will learn from its mistakes.

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