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Alcoholism And Drugs: The Effects On Childhood

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Jill Nelson was raised in what is known to be a "common" area or environment for many African-American children. Although she grew up in an upper-middle class household, her experiences were much the same as someone living in the projects with regards to her broken home and easy access to drugs and alcohol. In the United States, violence is most prevalent in the African-American community than any other ethnic group, and often drugs and alcohol are involved in many forms in violence. In Jill Nelson's book, Volunteer Slavery, she illustrates and suggests that drugs and alcohol destroys not only the person but the family and are used by people to try to escape life.

In most, if not all, societies of the world believe that parents are expected to be the backbone of the family. Henceforth, when Nelson's father left, she implies that her mother became an alcoholic. "Since the break-up, my mother, fueled by pain, rage, and Jack Daniel's, isn't exactly coherent when she talks about him. Or much else either," (Nelson 121). It is no revelation that Jill and her siblings were performing some of the same acts that were presented in there life at home; including smoking marijuana and other types of other drugs under their mother's roof every day when she was away. Jill Nelson's family life was much different before her father's abandonment and her mother's alcoholism. Unfortunately, at this time in their life, Jill and Lynn were more concerned about their mother catching them whenever they got high. "Oh no. Don't let her come in. She's going to know what we did," (Nelson 117). Consequences were more realistic when the family was together. Jill and Lynn ended up raising themselves and grew up too fast, which could be solely the result of how Nelson and all her siblings formed the particular types of immoral habits that they had. Essentially, they lost both parents solely between their father abandoning them and their mother not being active in their life; such as the traditional summers spent on Martha's Vineyard. Overall, there mother was not at all concerned like she had been previously in their lives. "Everything went wrong three years later, at least partially because of the drugs," (Nelson 121).

The most intuitive proposal that Nelson makes about drugs and alcoholism is that they are detrimental to families and causes everyone surrounding pain mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This is exemplified by two of her siblings who had experienced serious nervous break-downs. Drugs constructed her most prevalent childhood memories, and affected her siblings more mentally and physically than her own experiences. One of those memories was the permanent personality change of her sister Lynn after her cat died from consuming marijuana in its body. "In the lifetime that follows I become familiar with words like catatonic, paranoid, schizophrenic, withdrawal, nervous breakdown, trauma...and we want to believe that if we understand where she went we can get her back as she was. But we never do," (Nelson 130). The drugs permanently changed Lynn and the family's relationship with Lynn, even into adulthood. It is irrelevant to determine whether or not Lynn's episode was brought on by her direct use of the drugs or by her cat's death, but whichever one it was they were both brought on by the direct or indirect involvement of drugs. Following these traumatic events in Nelson's life, her older brother Stanley became addicted to crack and also caused her family a great deal of unhappiness. "But I am angry at his addiction, at the pain he causes himself and all the rest of us," (Nelson 174).

Another implication that Nelson draws from the use of drugs is that they provide a way to escape life and stressful problems. In the United States people tend to result to drugs truly believing that by consuming them they can forget about their problems. "My days have taken on a sultry, drug-induced rhythm. Get up, smoke a J, take a shower, drop a dexie, go to work," (Nelson 121).

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