My Sister, an Alcoholic

My younger sister and I are two years apart, and were very close growing up.  After high school I moved, and we lived on opposite coasts but talked all the time and saw each other on holidays with the family.  Then suddenly she stopped calling. I would call and leave messages, and rarely get a call back.  I knew she drank and smoked weed, but at the time had no idea she had started messing with dope. I called her job, only to find out she'd been fired months ago.  My parents went to her apartment to find her gone, unopened mail filling the mailbox.  Now we were really scared.  We all felt so powerless.  When the money ran out my sister showed up at my parent’s house and was sent to rehab.  But when she got out, she started to use again.  Like before, she disappeared. I felt worried, sick,...
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He Thought He Could Handle It

Jason was the kind of person people were drawn to.  He made friends easily and had a great sense of humor.  He was a caring person and a loving son who respected his family.  He was helpful around the house and in the winter he always shoveled our neighbor’s walk.  He loved kids, he was active in his youth group and he often volunteered for various community projects--he even worked for the agency I work for, a community-based group in Middlesex County, New Jersey that works to prevent substance abuse. When Jason was a little boy, he’d lie about little things.  When he was seven years old and swore he had taken a shower, even though the tub was completely dry.  He got caught in lies like that all the time, but as he grew into a young man we talked about it and he said he realized how silly it...
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Getting the Message

The first time my daughter came home drunk, I’m embarrassed to say, I thought it was kind of cute. She was only 15, but she was swearing like a sailor. So I sloughed it off. But, unfortunately, it didn’t stop there and her behavior began to get more and more problematic. For a kid who used to love school and had a lot of friends, things started to change, and by the time she was 17 my wife and I were truly concerned. When we talked to people about it, they often expressed the idea that it was just a phase that would pass, but before long we realized it wasn’t getting any better. We tried all the usual things – grounding her, telling her she couldn’t hang out with certain kids who seemed to be a bad influence, withholding her allowance, thinking this would limit her ability to get hold...
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