The personal essay “Under the Influence” by Scott Russell Sanders is a true story about his father’s addiction to alcohol. His father’s struggle with addiction affected all his family members and has left a long lasting impact on Sanders as an adult with his own children. Sander’s uses an abundant of sources to paint a detailed picture of what growing up with an addict was like for him. We learn how his father’s condition has changed him as a person and changed how he lives his life.
Through the use of short stories and biblical references, Sanders emphasizes how serious his father’s addiction was as well as portraying what it was like growing up someone who is an addict. Sanders tells us about a biblical story where a lunatic was running around like a madman, Jesus realizes the lunatic was possessed by demons and summons them out. The former lunatic was then in “his right mind”. Sanders compares the lunatic to his father stating “Maybe, like the lunatic, he was possessed by demons” (Sanders 6). He makes this comparison because when his father is drunk he becomes a whole different person, a lunatic. As a child, Sanders used this biblical reference to place the blame not on his father, but the demons that were festering inside him.