Sunday, October 4, 2015

Genealogy and Addiction

Today an important event is happening in our nation's capitol - 600 organizations are uniting to take a stand concerning a serious problem that must be addressed in our country.  UNITE TO FACE ADDICTION is focused on finding ways to help the 22 million Americans who are addicts, 23 million who are in recovery and put a stop to the death toll of 350 individuals a day who die from addiction related causes.
Dependency on drugs in the U.S. is not a new problem and my family, like scores of others, have been affected.  The Washington Post recently published an article on current research in the field.   "... addiction -- to drugs, alcohol, or any other destructive habit -- doesn't come as the result of some personal failings.  Its the result of some pretty serious brain chemistry."1  Unfortunately, for generations, families have felt the need to face the problem in secret due to society's repercussions and erroneous beliefs that addicts are people who simply make poor choices and lack willpower.  I applaud the millennial generation who are getting the message across that is not the case.  Addiction is a disease and effective treatment is possible.
My maternal lines and my husband's maternal and paternal lines are filled with alcoholics.  Not knowing much about my father's side I didn't think much about his abstinence from alcohol.  When I began researching his lines I was shocked to discover the following newspaper accounts of his maternal grandfather from the 3 Jul 1909:

"Perry Long and Frank Landfair, arrested at Celina charged, with selling liquor to Harry Karr, a habitual drunkard, after they had been warned not to do so, were found guilty and each fined fifty dollars and costs."2

The 1910 US Federal Census shows Grandma Emma Kuhn Landfair as divorced.  Was the divorce due to the conviction or was Frank Landfair also an alcoholic and the conviction was the last straw for Great-Grandma?  Although we may never know for sure, Frank's brother, Charles, experienced his own problems with addiction.

Charles' issues with alcohol led to a divorce, loss of his medical license and a prison sentence.
I can find no documentation that 3 other brothers who survived into adulthood were affected by the disease.
Thinking about the siblings, I'm thinking that's why many people today do not view addiction as a disease; when one sibling is an addict people think, if addiction is truly a disease, than the others siblings should also be addicts.  That's faulty reasoning.  My mother's two sisters had breast cancer but my mother did not.  Everyone would agree that cancer is a disease.  Why the assumption is often made that every family member would be an addict is erroneous but the believe exists.
Let's hope that the millennials are able to finally move forward regarding acceptance and support of individuals who are or have experienced addiction.  It's time.


1Feltman, Rachel. "The Sinister Science of Addiction." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 04 Oct. 2015.
2 The Lima News 3 Jul 2009 Accessed through Newspaper Archives Web 20 Feb 2010.

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