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Craig Melvin: How His Father Was Changed by Sobriety

The Today Show news anchor shares what a difference it made in the life of his family when his father confronted and overcame his alcohol and gambling addictions.

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Hi Guideposts. Craig Melvin here, news anchor for the Today Show over on NBC. Also a husband, father of two and author of the book “Pops.”

My dad is Lawrence Melvin, and when I was younger, he was physically present but emotionally absent, because he suffered from quite the addiction—first to alcohol, then to gambling, then to both. And he got swept up in it because it’s a disease. It’s genetic. And he worked the third shift at the post office and he used it to cope. And what started as a hobby soon came to consume him.

I don’t think a lot of people realize that addiction is a family disease. We certainly didn’t realize it until I was much older, but you know, when Dad was in the throws of his alcohol addiction and his gambling addiction, it affected all of us, directly and indirectly. You know, with the gambling addiction, him squandering away much of his savings. With the alcohol addiction, that kept him from being emotionally present, physically present.

As a result, me and my brothers, we ended up having to lean on surrogate fathers and my mother as well, who for a long time played the role of Mom and Dad.

So my dad decided to finally get some help in 2018, after he’d gotten into a car accident and he was drunk at the time. That was the catalyst; that was the impetus that led to an old-fashioned intervention. We drove him to an inpatient facility in Statesboro, Georgia, where he got weeks of help and treatment, and he’s been clean ever since.

So when he got out of rehab, almost instantly he was a different person. This man who had become, for the most part, estranged from our family, all of a sudden had become re-engaged. And the dad that we did not have was quite the contrast. When you look at the grandfather he’s become to his six grandchildren, he’s a different person in the best possible way.

So my message for anyone who has a loved one who’s struggling with addiction who doesn’t want to get help yet is be patient. Don’t give up. My dad was in his late sixties when he decided to turn his life around and it’s remarkable on so many levels, but we had probably given up on him a few times and up until 2018, we wouldn’t have guessed that he’d be the guy that would encourage so many others to turn their life around.

But it’s also a story of resilience. I mean, you know, he climbed many a mountain and we didn’t know about a lot of them until I sat down to write the book. And it’s also a story of family and love and how true family sticks together through thick and thin.

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