I am an alcoholic. I don't drink very much because I am an alcoholic. I have maybe a beer a couple of times a year, or a shot of mudslide mix in my
coffee once in a while. I did drink alcoholically once upon a time, but a bunch of old men in the Alcohol Rehab, and AA, in the Navy, scared the holy
you-know-what out of me when I was only 18 and I was able to quit drinking because my disease hadn't progressed very far. My biological father was an
alcoholic, and he gave me the "tendency." Gee, thanks, Dad.
Disease: a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic
or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness;
In alcoholism, the brain (an organ) functions incorrectly, and the disease progresses due to alcohol toxicity affecting the brain as the alcoholic
drinks. No, it is not tuberculosis or cancer or the flu; but remember that schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, clinical depression, and
other psychoses are also diseases
children of alcoholics have an altered brain chemistry that appears to make them more likely to become alcoholics themselves, ... "This is the
first evidence that the brains of the non-alcoholic children of alcoholics differ in the activity of specific brain circuits most scientists link with
alcoholism, and that those differences exist before the onset of heavy drinking,"
Although children of alcoholics (COAs) have a greater risk of developing alcohol-use disorders (AUDs), not all COAs will develop AUDs. ... [COAs
are between four and ten time more likely than non-COAs to develop AUDs,” said Mary Heitzeg, research investigator in the psychiatry department at
the University of Michigan, and lead author for the study. “It is widely believed that this is due to a combination of genes that are passed on and
the environment these children are raised in.
From the outside, it is difficult to understand why the alcoholic can not just "put down the bottle." However, this thinking is similar to - and no
more productive than - the belief that people who are depressed could get over it if they just got up off their butts and got a life.
Alcoholism is very complex; it is a progressive, incurable, and often fatal disease. It has both physiological and psychological components which,
over time, exacerbate each other. The physiological differences in the alcoholic's brain often make it respond differently to other chemicals, such
as prescription and OTC drugs, than the "normal" brain. This often causes drug-based treatments and therapies to be ineffective or have
unpredictable results. Also, as with smoking, the psychological component can not be treated with drugs and makes recovery that much more difficult.
Untreated, alcoholism is often a continuing downward spiral that ends only with the alcoholic's incarceration or death.
Alcoholism is also, to an extent, sort of contagious. The family, loved ones, friends, and coworkers of an alcoholic tend to get caught up in the
disease, becoming what is referred to as "co-dependents" or "untreated al-anons." Psychological problems can continue even if the co-dependent
successfully separates him/herself from the alcoholic, and may cause problems for the children of alcoholics throughout their lives even if they never
touch a drink.
If a loved one of yours had an incurable, contagious disease and there was nothing you could do to help them, what would you do? Would you stay
around, endangering yourself and other members of your family even though there was nothing you could do to help the sick person, or would you save
your own life and the lives of your other family members by keeping your distance?
This is a reasonable analogy. You can not help the alcoholic as long as he is drinking, and if you try you will only be sucked into the disease.
Separate yourself in the interest of self-preservation and allow him back into your life only if he becomes sober and is getting treatment, preferably
in AA. Join Al-anon yourself, go to some meetings and do some reading. Al-Anon will help you feel better about yourself, learn about alcoholism, and
provide some peace of mind and stress relief.
Negative emotions such as hate, resentment, anger, "despising," etc. do not trouble or harm the alcoholic, they only hurt you. Try to let go of
them. Compassion from a distance is good, and pity is acceptable although not constructive. Remember that, although it truly is not the alcoholic's
fault - at least, not entirely - it is also not your fault and you do not deserve the emotional pain, suffering, guilt, and other negative emotions
you have experienced and are experiencing.
Truly, for your own happiness and mental health, the best thing you can do is distance yourself from the alcoholic and remain uninvolved in his life
(and reduce his involvement in your life to the absolute minimum), educate yourself about alcoholism, and seek help and support for yourself in
Best wishes and may you find peace and happiness more quickly than I did; it took me over 40 years.
(edit to correct ex code)
[edit on 18-8-2008 by Heike]