Official Apex Reviews
Interviewed Alberta Sequeira on her published book, What Is and Isn't Working for the Alcoholic and Addict: In Their Own Words.
Thanks for joining us for this interview, Alberta. We're looking forward to sharing more about your book and other efforts with our readers.
What inspired you to compile this rather eye-opening treatise on the lives of addicts in recovery?
My writing on addiction started from the tragedy of losing my husband, Richard Lopes and my daughter, Lori (Lopes) Cahill from North Dighton, Massachusetts from their own alcohol abuse. I wrote my books because I felt there was something important to share with substance abusers and their families. Alcohol and drug abuse are so out-of-control that even the professionals are having a hard time trying to find ways to stop the yearly death-rate from climbing. I feel that adults and our children have lost their way in learning how to handle their pain and separating what they think is fun from what may kill them.
I had already published Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis, which is about my young marriage to Richard, our ups and downs with his drinking, the confusion, fear and abuse behind closed doors, the enabling, and the effect on our two daughters, Debbie and Lori. Richie died in 1985 in the VA Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island at forty-five years of age from his drinking since his teenage years. His mother, sister, brother, daughter, niece, and nephews drank, along with past relatives.
After losing Lori in 2006 in the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts at thirty-nine from the same disease, I wrote the sequel Please, God, Not Two: This Killer Called Alcoholism. I talk about Lori’s three alcoholic rehab stays and her struggle to reach sobriety. She had been admitted once to the Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island and twice to Gosnold Rehabilitation Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
They are open books on the reality of what happens to each individual in a family with an abusive drinker. I write about my situations with mistakes and the missed opportunities that would have been handled differently today. I could have named the books What not to do with Alcohol Abuse. I even added my talks to addicts at halfway homes, rehabs and court-ordered programs in the sequel. They are books of lessons more than being memoirs.
After Lori’s death, I started to wonder why some alcoholics and drug users recover and put their lives together while others die from this horrible, worldwide problem. What gives them the physical and mental strength to fight this battle and come out winning? These questions and the heartbreak of losing two loved ones from alcohol addiction encouraged What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict: In Their Own Words. I thought if I had these questions then other families did, too. Richie and Lori never opened up about their emotions or needs. I wanted to learn what addicts go through that I missed. I came from a very close and loving family and had no education or knowledge about substance abuse.
Was it difficult for you to gather together the 34 different contributors to the volume?
I realized that the only way to get the answers to my questions about the alcoholics emotions was to go directly to the source; the alcoholics and drug addicts. Who would know more than the ones who are living the life of addiction? I placed an ad online in Reporter Connection and asked if anyone was willing to tell their private stories with their own struggle overcoming their substance abuse for my book I was writing. I had to turn people away with so much response. Thirty-four substance abusers from all walks in life from the United States and Canada gave their testimonies. I left nothing out from their stories or changed a word. These are their stories.
Were any of the contributors reluctant to share the deeper, more personal details of their lives and addictions on a public stage?
They were excited to share their battle with addiction and wanted to get a message to doctors, counselors, family members, and society to learn, not only what the addict is looking for with support to help them through their recovery, but new ways to help the addicted. Many said telling their story was a healing process for them. A few didn’t want to give their names but told where they lived. Most were direct with their names and job titles. Their stories start from as young as five years old to their present life. They didn’t hide anything with the fact that their life had been turned upside down from their drinking, what they lost, and spoke about other relatives that died from their addiction.
How have readers reacted to the book thus far?
After reading each contributor’s story, a lot of readers realized that childhood emotional wounds mold us into what we became in adulthood, especially with living in an alcoholic family, denial, enabling, and the life we considered to be normal to us at the time.
One girl wrote a review on Amazon, “I have learned a lot from family and friends who are in recovery and this book took it one level deeper. The stories are raw, honest and heartfelt from the people who lived through the pain and came out on the other side. I would recommend this book to family members or friends who want to know how an addict/alcoholic thinks. It's also could be a good way to open a conversation with a loved one who is struggling to come to grips with whether they have a problem. We all want to know the right way to handle things and I think Alberta's book gives us insight that there is no “right" answer that applies to every addict. Bravo to the folks telling their stories!”
John Daubney, a contributor wrote:
“Having the addicts tell what worked for them and didn’t would be a most helpful addition to the literature on the subject of addiction and recovery.”
Is there a central message you'd like readers to take away from the book?
Often people want to debate with me on whether addiction is hereditary, a disease, or a choice. They are all right in my eyes. Each addict has their own reason why they went down the path of drinking or taking drugs. With Richard’s family history, a lot of them over-drank and still are to the point of being alcoholics. Others start from following the crowd, like college kids or younger, thinking everyone is cool and “What’s the harm, everyone is doing it? No big deal!” They truly believe that they can stop anytime. The last reason, which I consider to be the number one, is that the person is trying to hide a horrible event from the past that devastated them and they can’t deal with the problem or can’t find the strength to get professional help. In my opinion, doctors and counselor should look more into “why” a person is using more than the action of drinking or using drugs.
I want readers to know that What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict is not only for substance abusers but for family members to learn how to help the alcoholic and what not to do; an example, innocently, our enabling brings them deeper into their addiction. We as a family live in denial as much as the user. The contributors to this book are trying to tell us what they need to recover.
My greatest achievement with this book would be to see the interest to add it to any educational programs in libraries, school programs, or sitting on the bookshelves in all bookstores. It’s a book for the whole family. This book was published by me, but the contributors are the ones trying to save lives who are connected to alcohol and drug addiction.
Family members reach the point of being emotionally and physically drained trying to help the alcoholic. I had a small breakdown from the years of fighting to control Richie’s drinking. I pushed my body and mind beyond what it could take instead of realizing that the addict has to help themselves. We can only love and support them.
Please share more with our readers about your other writings.
I had dreams of traveling to tropical islands during my retirement, but God had other plans for me. As I mentioned, I became a writer from the tragedy in my life.
My writing started with my father’s death in 1990 when he died of cancer. I was going to write a book for my family so I could leave his military history to all our generations. Albert L. Gramm was a Brigadier General in the Army and was one of the commanding officers of the 26th Yankee Division during WWII and fought in Metz, Lorraine and the famous Battle of the Bulge. To get information on his life, I went to the Yankee Doings Magazine and asked if anyone knew him. I received personal calls, pictures, emails, and letters from his fellow servicemen. One man sent me the full bio of his life during WWII.
During my father’s cancer, he wanted to go to Medjugorje in Bosnia because of the miracles happening there since 1981 with six visionaries having ten secrets given to them on a daily basis, and up to this day, from The Blessed Mother that will be revealed to the world when they all get all of them. There are two visionaries left to get one more secret. One by one, a priest will read them.
I took the ten-day pilgrimage for my father after his death and my life changed forever being in the visionary’s company while they had apparitions with Our Lady. I believe that trip helped me deal with the loss of Lori.
That's how my first book A Spiritual Renewal: A Journey to Medjugorje got in the works. I added the miracles that happened to me that got me to this tiny, remote village to the book along with my relationship with my father.
The other two memoirs, Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis and the sequel, Please, God, Not Two: This Killer Called Alcoholism, on alcohol abuse in our family followed. I have completed my personal stories about my life with pain and finding my way back in life.
In addition to being an author, you're also an experienced director, producer, and Co-host to a cable TV show as well as a continuing educational instructor. Please share more with our readers about your endeavors in those fields.
My other titles came from becoming a co-founder with three other authors and named our group Authors Without Borders (www.awb6.com). We discovered that it cost us less dividing the expense with festivals or other events. We co-authored with our first book Loose Ends. It is a book of diverse collections of intriguing and insightful short stories, poems, and book excerpts that we hope will quench a reader’s thirst and captivate their imagination and emotions. The four of us are more than authors. Our backgrounds would amaze readers. We also teach at colleges, libraries and other locations with writing, talks, poetry reading or book signings.
We then went to a class at the NBTV-95 Cable Show in New Bedford, Massachusetts to learn how to have a cable show and developed Authors Without Borders Presents. It was fun learning to run the cameras and direct the program. We interview other writers, authors, managers of bookstores, poets, and publishers. We are hoping people who are interested in learning what faces them in the publishing world would have the desire to watch and learn what others go through to help them. One of our members, Willie Pleasants, has her own cable show called Willie’s Web out of Boston, Massachusetts with the Boston Neighborhood Network. We interview authors in that area on her show. People can become Associated Members on our site and we will give them an interview and a spot on our website. They can email us at [email protected]
As for my continuing education as an instructor, I listened to the telephone workshop programs for free with Steve Harrison, and he had someone explain the difference with a poor author and a rich one. The poor one is happy with just selling books at bookstores, while the rich one looks for ways to grow with their hidden talent, so I developed three-three hour workshops: “Bring Your Manuscript to Publication”, “How to Self-Publish Your Own Book with Create Space,” and Writing Memoirs.
I took my pain from my husband and daughter’s loss and became a Motivational Speaker on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and go wherever I get invited to talk. It’s hard to believe that I would never talk in front of people.
What's next for you?
I am now having fun with working on my first fictional The Rusty Years; The Remembrance of Being Young. Hopefully, it will be completed next year. Right now The Wild Rose Press requested a query letter from me. I want my followers and readers to see a lighter side of me. No more memoirs. My personal life is out there for the world to see.
I am open to speaking on the topic of “The Effect of Alcoholism on the Whole Family” or “My Spiritual Change Within” from my trip to Medjugorje if someone sends for a quote.
Willie Pleasants is trying to give me the courage to open my own cable show on the topic of addiction. I just edited my first standalone video on the cable show due out soon. Something I will be thinking about in the future.
How can our readers learn more about you and your ongoing efforts?
I have a lot of articles on the Internet once you key my name in to find anything about me. Or you can go to my blog on WordPress titled “Choices” at www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com. My blog for writers and authors is www.albertasequeira.org.
How can they contact you directly?
Send me an email at [email protected], and I’ll be happy to reply back. I love to hear from people.
Any final thoughts you'd like to share?
Never give up on wanting to write. We all have a story hidden in us. You may think no one would be interested, but write for you. Don’t write what you think people want to read but send a message to them that will help in their life with stress and struggles with problems. Send something funny in a fictional book. We all need a laugh in the terrible news around the world. If you talk about what you know during a presentation or at a book signing, readers will want to buy your book(s). Writing has to be fun, not boring or a chore. Take a day off from the computer if you are forcing yourself to write.
Where can readers find your books?
They can go directly to www.amazon.com/author/albertasequeira and all my published paperback and Kindle books will show up.
Thanks again, Alberta, and best of continued success to you in all your endeavors!