Thursday, November 1, 2012

Alcoholism Affecting Children

In my novel, The Shade Tree Choir the main character, Krame deals with childhood stress.  His alcoholic father beats him mercilessly and the eight year old boy receives no help from his mentally ill mother who is also an alcoholic.  There is one scene where he is locked away in a dark ‘tomb’ for over eighteen hours with no food, drink, or ventilation. He is abused like this from about age eight until age seventeen.  Imagine, if you will, the amount of stress this child endures.  He could care less about childhood. His mission is to survive.

Krame learns to fend for himself and not to trust. He is able to repress feelings both of physical pain and emotional distress. When put in a constant state of stress, anxiety levels are ‘off the charts’.  Krame takes this with him into adult life.  Do you suppose he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as an adult?

I will follow Krame and the other characters in The Shade Tree Choir  with my articles here.  You will learn the effects of stress and coping techniques as we progress through the novel.

Stress!  That awful word conjures up feelings of pressure, tension, frustration, and a sense of not being in control.  As a physical therapist with some thirty nine years of experience I used stress management techniques to guide my patients and also myself.

Stress is as common as low back pain in America where eight out of ten people will suffer from it at times. It can be short term or last for decades.  It can maim.  It can kill!  Take a look at our lifestyles.  Fourteen million Americans are alcoholics, there is drug abuse, child abuse, food abuse, and sex abuse.  Three major health problems are directly related to stress.  These include Type II Diabetes, Stroke and Heart Attack.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Little strokes fell great oaks’”  No matter how strong we think we are, we must listen to our bodies, and more importantly our minds.  If someone took a small axe and once a day chopped a piece of wood out of a huge oak tree, eventually that tree will fall.  Mounting stress day after day is like the axe to us where one day we could fall like the oak tree.  No matter how strong and powerful we think we are.

Daily stressors in our lives can irritate us and effect our ability to function as we would wish.  If left unaddressed these little stressors can gradually mount to the point that when we face a major lifestyle change we can become physically and mentally ill.  Some people define stress as ‘change’ from a normal routine.

Some examples of major lifestyle changes include, death of a family member, divorce, marriage, a loan of over $10,000, being fired from work, taking on a new job, and being sued in court.  How we react to these will determine our mental and physical states.

There are two types of stress.  One is the positive stress and the other is the negative.  I already mentioned a few negative stressors.  The positive ones might include being hired for a new job, working on a new project at work, trying a new golf swing, receiving a promotion, and the birth of a child.  Our bodies react the same way to these changes as the negative ones.  The results of the positive are short term.  Positive stressors help us set goals, work more efficiently, plan for the future, and appreciate what we have.  Without some stress we have no change and that leads to boredom.

We react to what is perceived as truth not what is actual fact.  Our perceptions of some things determine our feelings.  How many times have you been tired and go to bed only to become wide awake thinking negative thoughts?  Yes, me also.  That is not nice is it?  Sleep is the time to allow the body and mind to heal itself.  Without proper sleep there can be a vicious cycle that develops.  I will explain how to cope with this in coming articles.

You may want to purchase The Shade Tree Choir as it will help you understand what I will teach you each week. More information is on my site at

If you feel like sharing with the readers how you handle stress feel free to do so in the Comment Section of my Blog.  You just might help others and yourself as well. Should you want to contact me personally, I am available through You may also find me on other social media networks.

Remember: “Man is disturbed not by things but by the views he takes of them.”  Epictetus


  1. I enjoyed your book, David. As a teacher I saw many children struggling with the reality of dysfunctional and often abusive family situations. Their resilience never ceased to amaze me.

    1. Thanks, Erica: It is always nice to hear from professionals in the field who can relate to what I wrote.

  2. i read the book in one setting , im from the same town and we went to the same high school at the same time , but never met , glad i finnaly met you dave , great book

  3. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  4. You are quite welcome, Mary. I will add new discussions each week. I am a survivor of childhood physical abuse from an alcoholic father. "The Shade Tree Choir" deals with this issue as I have my entire life. Stop back by each week. Thanks for the post.

  5. “Man is disturbed not by things but by the views he takes of them.” There in lies the cure. You asked once if an abusive childhood could result in post traumatic stress disorder. It often does. Those who have suffered during childhood carry those traumas around like Marley carried his chains. While they can never get rid of those chains, the manner in shich they adapt to the weight of them determines how their lives unfold.


  6. I didn't attend your high school but great book and glad we met.

  7. Congrats on breaking the cycle of dysfunctionality.


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