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My dad has two birthdays. One marking how many years he has been on this earth and the other marking how many years he has been sober.

The day this article is published will officially mark ten years of my dad being sober. I could not be more proud of him. This milestone is huge and was no easy feat. I am also so elated to say that my father has officially been sober for over half of my life.

So, happy sober birthday, Dad! I wish I could spend it with you. But know I, and everyone in your life, is so incredibly proud of you. I am so thankful you chose sobriety. Thank you. I love you so much.

To give some background on my dad’s story: he had been drinking for a long time and alcoholism had run in his family. When my grandfather passed away, my dad’s drinking only escalated and he found himself in a downward spiral. He was constantly borrowing money and making empty promises about what it was being spent on. It was as if the weight of the world depended on each drink.

When I was around nine years old, my dad was hospitalized because of heart issues, stemming from alcoholism. This was terrifying for everyone, particularly my dad. The spelling bee was that week and I remember being so excited for him to come. But he could not. I was so devastated, but now I understand that he was at one of the most pivotal points in his life. He had to choose.

He chose to get sober. All on his own. He chose to go cold turkey after being discharged from the hospital and it worked.

Obviously, this process is not right for every alcoholic, but it was the perfect fit for my dad. He chose to battle his addiction more privately.

His journey was different from a lot of alcoholics’ paths to sobriety. But it was his. His will and his strength are what got him through.

Getting sober is the best thing my dad has ever done. It made him a better parent and a better person. I love my dad and I love hanging out with him. I am so glad he is still making the choice every day to remain sober. He has been so much more present in my life and in our family than he was ten years ago.

Things as small as my dad playing Mario Party 8 (pro-tip: play as Peach and you will always win), sitting down to play Clue with our family or us going to the grocery store together mean so much to me. The little details show how much he has changed.

Getting sober is not easy and I have immense respect for people who make the choice to be sober.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, know that there is help out there. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a helpline that can help guide people to treatment and services regarding substance abuse.

My dad’s alcoholism hurt our family a lot, but we grew from it. My dad chose to let go of his addiction for the better of himself and I could not be more grateful.

Happy sober birthday, Dad. I hope your day is the best. Know I am proud of you and I love you.

Allison Conkey

Kent State '23

Allison is a junior at Kent State majoring in Human Development and Family Studies. Most of her free time is spent reading and journaling. She is a cat mom (and cat aunt) and enjoys hiking, spending time with friends, and taking life in at her own pace.
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