For Some Families, Addiction Comes to Light Only in Death

"We do see that quite routinely. Maybe somebody is self-medicating some underlining untreated psychiatric disorder like depression or anxiety and they keep on drinking in secrecy but that is something that is not surprising at all," Levounis said.

For Marilyn White, the hold alcohol had on her was so strong that she even lied about being pregnant to go on a weekend drinking binge.

"I had somebody watch Shelly for the weekend and I told these two people that I was pregnant and that I was going into the city for an abortion. Never had an abortion in my life. I went into the city and drank all weekend and then came back," she said. "That's the lengths you go to to protect your right to drink. And that's how sick it is. You're so sick you don't know how sick you are."

Now 35 years after beating her addiction, White says she still lives with guilt but has found "a little bit of redemption" in knowing she's helping others.

"The first half of my life I was drinking and the second half I've dedicated to making people sober. That's helped me to heal," she said.

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