I’ve learned it’s important to share my story. Our stories have the potential to heal us and help others. For someone like me, sharing pieces of my story has always been and still is a slow process.

It’s somewhat less horrifying for me to talk about my history with alcoholism in meetings, in sharing with my family and with very close friends. One day I’ll hopefully be able to share details more easily because I wholeheartedly believe sharing our stories is the best way to help the ones still out there struggling. I’d like to do my little part to chip away at the stigma and shame associated with alcoholism, so more of us would seek help sooner.

I hold the most shame in admitting that I was an active alcoholic mother on and off for almost three years.  I’m no longer that person.  But still, to admit that I ever was is very difficult for me.

When there is a drinking problem in the family, all family members are affected; and in my opinion especially the children.

About 11 million children in America grow up with at least one alcoholic parent or family member. 25% of children in the United States are exposed to alcoholism or drug addiction in the family. This means that in our parishes, our neighborhoods or among our children’s friends, one in four might be hiding their embarrassment, confusion, hurt or shame about what’s going on at home.

The National Association of Children of Alcoholics has designated this week, February 10-16, 2013 as the 30th Annual “Children of Alcoholics Week.”  This week is dedicated to bringing awareness to the needs of these children. NACOA advocates for all children and families affected by alcoholism and other drug dependencies. They are a source of information and support for children experiencing difficulty with an alcoholic or drug addicted parent.

What can we do to honor the children of active alcoholics in our parishes, schools and communities this week-and every week? Reach out to a child you know who has been touched by addiction—let them know they’re not alone and that it’s not their fault.

Nick News, in connection with Children of Alcoholics (COA) Week 2013 will re-air Under the Influence: Kids of Alcoholics at 7:oopm on Friday night, Feb. 15th. The program chronicles the different experiences actual children of alcoholics have when their parents drink and the different ways some have found to get through it. To view this program ahead of time, click here for the 20 minute video.

Pray for the alcoholic and their family.  An excellent prayer resource is offered free of charge from the National Catholic Council on Alcoholism entitled, “Prayers for Addicted Persons.”  Email them for a complimentary copy of the prayer booklet.

We arranged for our children to meet with their counselor at school and an amazing private counselor in Crabapple, Georgia.  We wanted our school-aged boys to know they didn’t have to keep “my secret.” I told them they are welcome to talk about their feelings with any of their friends or whomever they wanted to. I especially wanted them to know that I wouldn’t ever be mad at them for talking about my drinking problem.

Both professional counselors talked with our children about the 7 Cs:

You didn’t Cause it
You can’t Cure it
You can’t Control it
You can
Take better Care of yourself by
Communicating your feelings
Making healthy Choices
Celebrating yourself

A wonderful patron saint for children of alcoholics is Saint Bernadette.   Bernadette is one of the children who witnessed the apparitions at Lourdes. During most of Bernadette’s childhood her father was an odd job man, picking up a day’s work as opportunity offered, and, from time to time, escaping from his problems and responsibilities by turning to the delusive comfort of alcohol. His wife and children, naturally, were the chief sufferers from his ineffectualness. Her feast day is April 16th (which also happens to be Pope Benedict XVI’s birthday :0 )