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How a Parent’s Drinking Can Impact Their Child – A Personal Reflection

There were many, many signs all throughout my life as to the severity of Momma’s alcoholism. I, however, was in deep denial for years – I didn’t want to face her reality because I wasn’t facing my own. As a result of a traumatic childhood – one filled with child abuse and sexual victimization – I developed eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, self-harmed, abused substances and battled various mental health issues such as depression and delusions. It became obvious as I reflected back – as Momma’s drinking and mental health conditions worsened, in particular bipolar and dissociative identity disorder, my own mental health spiraled downward and I grabbed onto anything that I could to cope, often, to the extreme.By my mid-twenties and at the height of my modeling career, Momma’s alcoholism had taken over every aspect of her life: she couldn’t hold down a job, relationship or take care of herself. She had been in countless car accidents and in most of them had left the scene – a combination of her disorders and drinking left her with massive gaps in her memory. She would often disappear into the woods for days at a time. I felt powerless and I wasn’t the only person who felt this way; my younger brother and other people in the family had spent years trying to help her, yet were helpless as she continuously slid down the dark, bottomless hole of alcoholism. I was so ridden with anxiety and sick with anorexia nervosa that any news about her sent me over the edge. However I knew that something had to be done; even though our family was dysfunctional and non-traditional, we needed to come together and have an intervention. I flew to America from Spain, helped her into the hospital then rehab, where she miraculously agreed to stay for ninety days.Once Momma entered rehab, I was sure that she would be alright, however my brother and I decided that we had reached our limits. If she decided to walk away from treatment at any point, we wouldn’t help her anymore. One of the most important points I want to stress here is personal responsibility; it is so easy for everyone to lose themselves when a loved one is dealing with substance abuse disorder. But family members need to practice self-care, and the sooner, the better. Recovery can often be like a rollercoaster with many highs and lows, so the more that family members understand boundaries and self-love, if nothing else, the more peace they will have. Peace is priceless. It is never guaranteed that an individual will agree to treatment and stick with therapy, but family members do have the ability to seek out the healing that they need.Once Momma reached her sixty-day mark in rehab, she woke up and decided that she didn’t want help anymore. She left the facility and went back to drinking with her enabler, which ultimately led to her death just a couple of weeks later. My brother and I made the very difficult decision after she left rehab to cease all contact with her; it was our first act of real self-love after nearly a lifetime of giving and not receiving and has led to both of our healings and recovery today. 

About the author: Nikki DuBose is a former model, commercial actress and host who has appeared on the covers of and in editorials for magazines such as Maxim, Glamour, and Vanity Fair. She has recently turned her career focus towards writing, speaking and mental health advocacy and serves on the Executive Boards of Project Heal SoCal Chapter and Peaceful Hearts Foundation, two organizations dedicated to raising awareness and funds for those suffering from eating disorders and child sexual abuse. Her memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, will be released this year and details her recovery from over seventeen years of abuse, sexual victimization, eating disorders, addictions, self-harm, body dysmorphic disorder and various mental health issues, all while trying to navigate through the dark side of the modeling industry.

About C.A.R.I.:  C.A.R.I. provides guidance on intervention, detox, drug and alcohol rehab options in North County of San Diego, including the cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Vista, San Marcos and Rancho Santa Fe.  We help not only the people who struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, but also their families and loved ones.  Our program accepts PPO insurance from insurance providers such as Cigna, Aetna, UBH, Optum, Magellan and Value.

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