We have made great strides toward reducing the stigma addiction carries and many agree this is a disease not a choice; yet many people still turn a blind eye to those who struggle with any type of chemical dependency, mental health issue or any other disorder.

Growing up in a family with alcoholism proved to me what a nightmare this disease was. Because of my mom’s drinking, the rest of the family suffered as well. We just didn’t talk about it, especially outside the home or to each other

I remember loud, ugly arguments, her trips to the hospital and everyone filled with tension. We all loved her, so why couldn’t she stop doing this? To herself? To us?

The gene of addiction was passed on to me. My way to escape the feelings of inadequacy was through alcohol. Drugs were eventually added to the mix; and nothing ever improved. Why did I still continue to drink? Because I did not have the power or the knowledge to stop on my own. I could not stop. I needed outside help and am forever grateful I finally surrendered.

Everything about me and the life I created was shattered. From my family and relationships, to jobs and friends, all I brought to the table was drunken chaos.

Getting sober and staying sober was not my doing. I am in long-term recovery because of the help and guidance of others, from the professionals — to the fellowship of people who are on same journey — and most importantly, a God bigger than I ever imagined. Stay with us on this path, we need one another.

Wishing you all a happy spring and another day clean and sober.

This is Alcohol Awareness Month, let’s keep the dialog open.