Alcoholism is still considered such a taboo subject in our society which is why it can go untreated for so very long, because people simply do not want to admit it or talk about it. It is brushed under the carpet to the detriment of the alcoholic.
And as alcohol is perfectly legal and virtually encouraged in many societies it can be very hard for an individual or their friends and family to recognise when a person has become an alcoholic. A person can tell themselves or others that they “just enjoy a drink” or they have “had a hard day” and this can continue for a very long time, gradually getting worse and worse until the person is in desperate need of help.
And whether people believe it or not, alcoholics can come in all different shapes, sizes and ages. I was 20 years old when I first really admitted to myself that I was an alcoholic. I was drinking all day every day and I even turned up drunk to work with alcohol in my handbag. I was passing out drunk on a daily basis and there was never a day that I was not drunk at some point.
I have not had a drink in seven years now and even though I am so glad I have not, I still get really tempted sometimes and have to look online for support from others that have been through the same thing. It is not easy but I count my blessings every single day of my life that I am lucky enough to have escaped and got sober because I know so many people do not get this chance.
I won't sit here and tell you what got me into this situation because it is not a happy tale and may make people reading this more depressed than they already are. I started drinking about 3 months ago not very long but at 23 i am now drinking 5 cans of strong bow cider and a 50cl bottle of whiskey a day. I have tried seeking help at the advice of my counselor but i don't feel it is a problem i'm on long term sick for depression and it makes me happy again but of course this is the point i want to make to anyone reading this who is worried. I started drinking 3 months ago at just 7 units a day which has rapidly increased to well over 25 units a day meaning it is taking more and more alcohol to increase my serotonin levels to make he stimulated. I may not be here in a few months if i keep doing this but stopping is easier said than done. My message is to not start drinking please it doesn't seem like a problem but when you start sacrificing your food bill for drink it is.
After nearly 14 and a half years i got in to contact with my father who I had been told about before i met him. I found his sister on facebook and ever since then i have remained in contact with him.
However on our first ever outing I was 14 at the time he turned up drunk with his girlfriend (they are not together anymore) he took me for something to it and then his girlfriend at the time suggested we go to the pub to meet her father me at the time was a little bit upset that he hadn't bothered to turn up sober for the occasion after all it was only the first time he has met me and all.
Ever since this i have continued to see him but he still drinks eccseivley his beverage is bacardi and coke he has no idea what this is doing to his health and everytime i confront him about the situation he just replys with "i have been to work all week" don't get me wrong he is a very hard worker as he is a full time butcher which means that he has to start most times at 4 in the morning till 3 in the afternoon. You may be thinking that he deserves the drink but the thing is that he doesn't eat at all during the sessions and he does sometimes becomes angry and aggressive and from what i have heard in the past violent. This is the main factor that destroyed my mothers relationship with him as before I met him she told me the horrible things he did to her whilst together. And most if not all his income off £250 per week goes on drinking and alcohol.
When he is sober and not had a drink he is the lovliest man in the world and it makes me proud to call him my dad he should be like this more.
Anyway alcohol effects the people you love and how they are around you, it also changes your personality and the way you are with people. I am no way condoning the fact that you shouldn't drink because personally I think that we all like a good drink when the oppurtunity is right but there are limits to how often.
I can bore anyone with my time with alcholicism, but I will not on this occassion because I feel it is a sad road for anyone to go down.
Now 56 years and many years ago I put the binge drinking behind me; basically I grew up, realised my responsibilities and moved on to a better and healthier life that I enjoyed.
It took a lot of thinking out and I will be the first to admit I had a few lapses which I was discusted with myself afterwards. I still enjoy one drink a week at the pub and the occassional one at home, when I was sporting 5-8 pints a night in my early twenties.
Smoking about twenty cigarettes a day thirty on a Weekend per day, I was in a state. It maybe small compared with many who would drink a bottle or two of Vodka or whisky but I was in the state of never refusing; I couldn't stop and the DT's were always there the following day.
This is how I did it:
I was sat in the pub one night before my mates came in, and realised over the following months, they were getting girl friends, settling down and they were slowing down and I was beginning to look a "Plonker."
I knew then that I was beginning to feel alone and knew I had to move on.
I met some girls who tried to enforce me to give it up, but that made me annoyed because I wanted to do it my way. They more or less suffocated me and sometimes I just wanted that bit of space.
I met my wife a few years later and we did have a lot of fun, I had some space and I cut down in my own way, even before I proposed to her. Unfortunately that was one night at a party and I was a bit tipsy and she wouldn't believe that i was serious and thought I would forget it the next day, but I didn't and she accepted.
We started saving for our house straight away and afforded the deposit within six months, then saved for our married lives together, we worked as a team and my money meant more towards that than down at the pub.
Three months before we married, I stopped smoking by giving my twenty cigarettes to a work-mate and just said I stopped. I was now fitter although my years of the alcohol took some detoxing I learnt to ween my way off it by changing my objectives and prioritising other important things in life.
If I hadn't had drunken over those years, I wouldn't have needed such a high mortgage or would have had better things in life.
Last week I received a phone call from a friend of mine to tell me his ex-wife had died. I hadn't seen her for some years as she moved away from London after they divorced but she is someone I remember as a vivacious, bubbly and very funny lady that I used to meet regularly in the pub, back in the days when my social life revolved around the place.
Once she divorced my friend she re-married and the last time I saw her was before my daughter was born but she was happy and seemed healthy then.
When I was last visiting London just a couple of months ago, I met up with my friend and his daughter and I obviously asked after her mother. She told me she had become, in her words, "a recluse" - who spent evenings indoors watching TV and drinking heavily on her own - and sadly now I find this drinking has taken her from her family at the very early age of just 52.
My father was an alcoholic, so I share the pain and frustration my friend's daughter feels at losing her mother - but my father was a very different kind of alcoholic - he was the social one.
My friend's ex-wife lost her ability to go out and be a social butterfly - my father on the other hand, never did.
He grew up with parents who had signed the pledge - so there was never any alcohol in the house.
At the age of 18 he got a part-time job in a pub in Glasgow. His own father was so anti-alcohol that my father lied and told him he was working as a waiter. The tips and fiddles he was introduced to meant my father ended up earning more money working part-time in the pub than his own father earned as a cobbler or his mother earned working in the crockery department at the old Arnotts store in the city.
He felt very guilty about this, but he also felt restricted by the rules of the house so he started to drink whisky - and found he had a taste for it.
My father had some inner demons which dented his self-confidence in his youth. He was born out of wedlock to his mother's younger sister and was adopted by the people he, and I, considered his parents.
At the age of 13 he was told by his biological mother of his origins and she reiterated the fact he was a "bastard". He never really got over this revelation, which is really nothing of note these days but in the 1940s the stigma was enormous. Later on she married and had a family of her own, but my father remained her dark secret that she kept from her younger children to maintain a degree of respectability.
His adoptive parents had had two daughters who died in childhood from a genetic condition they inherited from their parents and this put added pressure on my father as the sole surviving child, despite the fact he adored his adoptive mother and father.
He was able to contain his taste for alcohol for some years - he joined the Merchant Navy and was a copious drinker but it didn't take over his life. He met and married my mother, who was oblivious to his love of the hard stuff and worked hard and stayed sober to raise their family.
When I was in my teens, my father started working away from home a lot, and that's when the addiction began to take hold.
The first time I realised he may have issues with alcohol was when I was 19 and in a pub with him. It was one of the first times I had gone to the pub with my father but he went from being funny and good company one minute to being incoherent and loud the other. The landlord eventually asked us to leave because of the noise he was making.
This became a pattern over the years and as he grew older, his behaviour became more outrageous. My father wasn't a nasty drunk - he was never violent or abusive but he was a complete and utter pest and no fun to be with. He never knew when he had had enough and would drink until he passed out, and believe me, he passed out in lots of strange places.
Eventually his liver began to shut down and he ended up in a coma. Doctors were able to save him by removing his spleen and he vowed he wouldn't drink again.
Sadly this vow only lasted for 6 months - once he felt stronger again he was back in the pub drinking pints and whisky, despite the pleas from those who loved him.
Like all alcoholics, he lied to those who cared about him - he told my mother the consultant who had treated him and told him his liver was "repaired" and he could drink in moderation. He told me his drinking "wasn't a problem" when quite clearly it was.
In the last year of his life, his health was shot to pieces. He struggled to walk and his memory became addled. He would recall fantastical and completely untrue events to his family which concerned and upset us. I later learned this is typical behaviour in alcoholics.
Eventually he ended up back in hospital after breaking his arm and, to be polite, having major bowel problems. At first we assumed drying out would solve the problem but it quickly became evident his issues were more serious.
My mother asked the consultant why they weren't fixing his broken arm, to which he responded with "his arm is the least of his problems now". His liver was diseased irreparably with cirrhosis and in addition to this they had discovered his body was riddled with cancer.
The very last day I spent with my father was the first and only time he admitted to me he had a problem with alchohol. He said he bitterly regretted going back on the drink - when he got sick the first time he wasn't in much in the way of pain and had assumed that if he was going to die through alcoholism it would entail a death where he drifted away.
The reality however was altogether different. He suffered severe water retention which meant his fluid intake was severely limited. He was in severe pain for much of the time and in the end he said that if he had known it was going to be like this, he would never have touched another drop again.
Watching a man who had been vibrant, intelligent, amusing and kind turn into a shadow of himself was devastating for me, as was the knowledge that he was not going to be about to see the baby I was carrying at the time.
He was 61 when he died and drink had robbed him of the chance to see his first granddaughter - our final conversation was the day after she was born when he could barely speak down the phone and he passed away when she was just 6 days old.
I still miss my father and reflect upon the kind of grandfather my daughter has missed out on, but I won't hide from her the fact he died so young was because of drink.
I enjoy a drink too - probably too many in the past - but am aware that alcoholism can be passed on from one generation to the next so I have to be very careful. I also believe my father turned to drink to wash away feelings of shame he felt over his origins, and also to blot out pain whenever something bad happened in his life. He mistakenly thought it turned him into a more interesting person too, when in fact the opposite was true.
I often wish my father could have admitted to himself he had a problem - I have seen others do this and get the help they need - but my father seemed to view this as a weakness.
When you are young you think you are indestructible - you think you can down a bottle of vodka and the worst that can happen to you is a sore head the next day - but if you let it become too much of a habit, time will catch up with you in the end.
Also, don't fool yourself if you are putting away a bottle of wine every evening that you are in some way less dependent on alcohol as the vagrant drinking Super Lager in the street.
Alcoholism can touch anyone and the catalyst can be something as innocuous as lack of confidence to a mask to cover a devastating loss.
However constant heavy drinking over a long period of time will only lead to one place - and that is death.
Alcoholism is something affects a lot of people, more people that we let ourselves believe. It is extremely easy to get into that situation, and all it takes is something to push someone over the each. What I want to know is what is defined as someone who is an alcoholic, is it someone who drinks as soon as they wake up. In my opinion, not neseccarily, I think an alcohlic is someone who cant go one day without having a drink, and to be honest, there is no excuse for it. It is a disease, and one that can be treated but it is a long process, and they need help from everyone they know.
Some people think that they should do it on their own, but I think that an alcohlic needs as much support as they can get, otherwise what is the point. I only know one person who was extremely dependant on alcohol, and it nearly destroyed their lives, almost to the point where he lost his family. There was a pivotal point in his life, which I wont go into detail where he realised that something needed to be done, and he did it, which help from his family and friends.
I think that alcoholics are their own ememy, and they got themselves into that mess, so they need to get themselves out of it. It is a downfall of many people, and I myself am not a big drinker, so that is a situation I will avoid with the best of my ability.
Alcoholism is one of those weird disorders, and I don't mean this because it doesn't have recognisable symptoms. It does. I'm saying this because the disorder itself often isn't counted as an illness but as a weakness...and that is the easiest way to look at it - particularly if you have someone in your family who is an alcoholic. It's easier to place the blame on a person, without thinking that it is an illness and does need to be thought of as such. I think the other reason why it is weird is because there is a thin line between enjoying alcohol, being alcohol dependant, and being an alcoholic. And before anyone asks, no I do not have personal experience of being an alcoholic (even if I probably do probably drink too much...but that's called studentism) ...what I do have is the experience of being the daughter of an alcoholic.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association alcoholism is "a primary, chronic disease characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking." However, as a layman not a medical expert an easier definition would be that alcoholism is the recurrent use of alcohol with no attention paid to the adverse effects, an uncontrollable urge to drink and withdrawal symptoms when you don't drink. Even this, however is a medical definition. Alcoholism is at it's most basic form an addiction to alcohol, whereas alcohol abuse is the destructive use of alcohol.
Although it is tempting to classify alcoholism as a lack of self control, particularly by those who have an alcoholic in the family, alcoholism is a disease and must be treated as such. It just happens to be far more tempting to yell and scream at a drunk alcoholic than you would ever dream of doing to someone with a different chronic disease. This is probably because alcoholism is to a point a choice, someone chooses alcohol in a way that nobody chooses cancer or diabetes.
There has for many years been a massive debate about the root cause of alcoholism, whether it is genetic, based around the way a child has been brought up, or even whether it is a matter of weakness. The latter view has been more or less completely displaced, whereas the genetic strand of thought has gained far more support and evidence to back it up. This is easily shown in considering that children with at least one alcoholic natural parent were three to four times more likely to become alcoholics when adopted into non-alcoholic families than children whose natural parents were non-alcoholics. It has been suggested that some people have more addictive personalities than others, and that these are the people who are more likely to get addicted to alcohol, cigarettes or any other substance, and that this predilection does run in genes.
As I stated earlier though, it is very difficult not to blame the alcoholic, to see them as being the one at fault because it is their drinking that got them into the issue in the first place. It took me a long time to get over my hatred and anger at my mother, and to start seeing alcoholism as a disease. There are however other causes for alcoholism, as nothing can ever be as simple that. There are psychological factors, emotional factors and cultural factors that all tie in together, none of these alone is enough to make an alcoholic become what they end up being, however, when all are mixed together then the results show.
There are two sections to the effects that alcoholism has. One is the obvious physical effects that alcoholism has on the individual suffering from it. The second is the social issue, and that is what effects this disease has on the people around the alcoholic; their family, the society. Both of these issues are equally important, as both have a massive impact on the individuals effected.
The physical effects of alcoholism are well documented, and most people know them fairly well, but it can never hurt to run over them again. The most obvious issue would be liver failure, the inflammation of the liver and cirrhosis, which is irreparable damage to the liver. Other fairly important health risks that go with alcoholism would be high blood pressure, damage to the heart muscles which will increase the dangers of heart attacks and strokes, along with an increased risk of cancer of the oesophagus, larynx, liver and colon. If the alcoholic is pregnant and is still drinking heavily then there is also a risk of foetal alcohol syndrome in the unborn child, which results in birth defects including a small head, heart defects, a shortening of the eyelids and various other abnormalities including developmental disorders when the child grows up. There is also a definite link between alcoholism and depression, which in turn leads to higher suicide rates and other issues that are more related to depression.
Other medical issues include the fact that the alcoholics metabolic rate will be lower, which will in turn lead to weight gain and equally diabetes. There is also a theory that high levels of drinking lead to a higher risk of cancer in later years, although this hasn't been fully proved. What can be proved however, is the fact that the withdrawal effects of alcohol can actually be fatal if the alcoholic has been drinking to a complete excess over a good amount of time. In this it is always better to seek professional help.
The social effects however can be equally, if not more, damaging to both the alcoholic and the society around the alcoholic. I have mentioned above how difficult being a daughter to an alcoholic can be, and this family aspect alone shows perfectly the social difficulties with being an alcoholic. An alcoholic mother can quite quickly and easily lose her entire family, as one by one they just can't cope anymore. Some cope by sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that it will go away if they don't come out of their shells for a while, others throw violent temper tantrums (normally younger children) because they can't understand why mummies acting so weirdly. Others, much like me, have miniature mental break downs and get carted off by social services. But whereas with any other disease the parent would get masses of sympathy, in this case the only thing she gets is anger, disappointment, embarrassment, and eventually sheer apathy...which is so much worse. Alcoholism can break families into small pieces, as everyone tries to cope in the only way that they know how to, but in doing so you often end up splitting the family further because no one truly talks to anyone else. It becomes a family's dirty little secret, which in turn means that you often have children who are not only burdened with the jobs that a parent should do for them, but they also have the added burden of keeping the whole thing secret. No one wants to air their dirty laundry in public now, do they?
But alcoholics come in many shapes and sizes. You have the violent alcoholic, the weepy alcoholic, the passed out alcoholic, and the nagging annoying as hell alcoholic...some people can even stretch beyond the single boundaries and be one or another. But it's difficult to say which is more damaging to the family, I have heard many people say violent is always the worst...but I'm not sure. Violent alcoholics are without a doubt, horrific to live with, but as a child the damage tends to be picked up quickly (if you're lucky), any of the other types of alcoholics are no less damaging to the child, and it takes far longer for any well meaning member of the public to pick up on the fact that something is wrong...
I hated my mother. It wasn't fair, but it's true. I hated her drinking, I hated the fact that she wasn't there to protect me. I hated that I was the one left to be the mother to my younger brother. God knows why I didn't equally take it out on my father (stick head in sand type), but I didn't. By the time I moved into full time foster care, I wouldn't even be in the same room as her because she disgusted me so much. As far as I was concerned at the time, I was fed of the embarrassment, the excuses, the attempts to get her home in one piece, the village gossip and the sympathetic glances sent my way. It's taken me 7 years to even start to get a relationship back with her, and even now as soon as she touches alcohol I'm out of there because I know I won't be able to handle her without snapping. My brother spends his entire time yelling at her, and my father completely ignores her. The house is made up of four people who live together in the house, but have completely separate lives. This may not be solely because of one person's alcoholism, but a fair amount of it is due to that. It is an almost sure fire way to split up a family, because it is very hard to live with an alcoholic and stay sane.
On the professional side to the social effects of alcoholism the loss of any job that the alcoholic happened to have before is highly likely. A work place may put up with drunken behaviour once or twice, but once it becomes regular habit then they cannot afford to keep that worker. The loss of a driving license is the other big issue. Although we have all heard the maxim; 'Don't drink and drive', more times than we have eaten hot dinners, to the alcoholic it means nothing. Before my mother lost her license (and job for that matter), she would quite happily climb into her car - with her children - after a full bottle of rum, because this was her usual amount to drink and as far as she was concerned, she was safe. Trying to drum into an alcoholics head that they are in no fit state to drive is not worth it, they do not listen.
Socially, alcoholism is disastrous for both the alcoholic themselves and for the family that they may have. More often than not, families just cannot stand under the strain of it, it is too much to bear...and if social services manage to get involved then it makes the whole social situation better, as then the parents have the guilt and the blame to throw around on top of everything else. The gossip and rumours that go around the community that you live in do not help with this either...I have to admit I used to have great fun shocking the gossip mongrels in my village, as soon as they asked a leading question I would give a scarily blunt answer which told the truth and nothing but. I just used to love watching the expressions of shock on their faces...and there is no better way to make an elderly parishioner leave you alone!
It's difficult to find a treatment for alcoholism because people who are alcoholics don't want treatment, often won't stick with treatment, and even if they complete the course of treatment there is nothing to say that they will actually stick by it. In fact, it is highly likely that they will not. Detox is the most obvious option, but what people forget about detox is that you are only in hospital for a week or so and then after that they are left to their own devices. Although drugs are often given to stop the withdrawal effect it is left up till to the alcoholic to actually stick to this, and quitting any addiction is remarkably difficult to do...talking as a long term smoker.
The other main type of treatment is a sort of home to put alcoholics and drug abusers in for between 12 months and 24 months. This is more effective than mere medication and detox, because of the long term stopping of any alcoholic beverage, and once you have been 12 months it is then easier, if not easy, for the alcoholic to stop drinking. One of the main organisations that does this kind of treatment is Betal, which is a Christian organisation which takes in alcoholics and drug abusers to give them a second chance as such. The main issue with this sort of treatment is that however well it may work while the person is actually in the home, as soon as they go home to the same home situations then all changes. They are back in the same house, with the same issues and temptations that they always had, and that is a very, very difficult thing to resist. It's far easier to fall back onto old habits.
I know that there is no way in hell that I can persuade any alcoholic not to drink, nor anyone who has started going down that road to stop. I've tried enough times to do that with my own mother...and I've always failed at that no matter how hard I tried. All I can say is that it really does ruin families. It is a brilliant way to drive your children away from you, and it also makes you a brilliant scapegoat for any issues that happen to go wrong. Alcoholism is a disorder that has a massive chance of ruining the life of both the sufferer and the family of the sufferer because of the social effects it has, and because it is often far easier for the family of the alcoholic to lay the blame on the alcoholic.
Alcoholism is a serious disorder which requires medical help, not blame thrown around. It is often difficult to understand this, and far too easy to let a family be torn to shreds because of one person's alcohol addiction.
Alcohol is seen by many as nothing to be concerned about, something which is harmless.
Well I'm sorry to burst the bubble but it's not!
Now we've all been in the position where we have a few drinks, maybe one too many and wake up the next morning with the worst headache ever, sickness and finding ourselves saying "I'm never drinking again". Unfortunately for the majority, this is a regular thing, something which happens over and over again and never really comes to an end. BUT, what about the day that comes when you find yourself relying on alcohol to function?
Well I'm writing this review, because this is a subject that i feel strongly about and have experienced personally, so i will now let you all know the long term affects of alcohol abuse.
For as long as i can remember, my mother has been an alcoholic.
I've spent most of my life hoping that she doesn't pick up that next drink or miraculously STAYS sober.
As well as the medical problems involved, i've also had to witness her spiral out of control when drunk, get involved with the wrong crowd as well as the police and put so much strain on the family.
Now at 18, I'm her full time carer due to her suffering from mental illnesses and physical. I have to be around 24/7, I'm unable to leave her alone so can not work. All this being because of alcohol!
I've had to deal with her problems as well as my own through out my life and still do. Now it's got to the point where i give up hoping or wishing and just put up with the life I and her have. Unfortunately, through many failed attempts at giving up the beer, I no longer see this happening.
I'd like to warn people just how life changing alcohol can be.
If you think that you can drink as much as you want and when you want and you'll still have control, your wrong. Even by drinking in large units one day and none for another, week, month, year, you are still damaging yourself. Drinking in large amounts can cause death whether it's a regular thing or not.
So think before you decide to have that extra bottle or yet another night out.
Alcohol is just like any other drug. It has the potential to become addictive, it can cause long-term illnesses or even worse, death!
Now I'm a teenager myself and i know how it can be when it comes to doing the illegal stuff now that it is legal, but seriously guys, don't bother, it's not worth it in the slightest.
In my opinion, alcohol should be made illegal to consume outside of bars, pubs, clubs etc. at least. If it was up to me it would be banned all together!
Alcoholism is an addiction that has affected my family and something that must be one of the hardest habits to kick as alcohol is all around us in society, on our TV screens, in many social venues and in the culture of this country which promotes getting smashed as the key to having a good night out or as a sign of maturity, the drinking culture in this country certainly seems to be out of control and it is so easy to access alcohol and get cheap drink.
Alcoholism is a dependency on alcohol to function on a daily basis, there are all sorts of data out there that define it by number of units per day but my experience of two family members was that they could not function effectively without alcohol, both my uncle and aunt had good jobs in advertising but at the end of the day they would get home and open a bottle of brandy, wine or beer to get a quick drink before the child minder returned the kids home, then it would be a drink with dinner before settling down for the night with a bottle of something, when I stayed with them they would easily drink a bottle and a half of brandy each night, often my uncle would still be asleep on the sofa in the morning.
It really hit home how bad the problem was when I met him one day for lunch, this was in the days when pubs had closing times after lunch however after a few drinks at lunch uncle knew where we could go to get a mid afteroon drink and we ended up in a dingy drinking club where he was well known.
In the end drink cost him his company and that particular marriage however his next wife was also a drinker and the cycle continued, in the end it was only when they hit rock bottom and the kids moved out that they changed and now ten years on they have both been sober for the past seven, they still have health problems due to the alcohol abuse but at least now the are clean and can lead a normal life.
There is nothing positive to say about alcohol, it wrecks lives, careers and families as well as the health of the drinker, for me it is much too cheap and easy to get hold of and I would like to see a much highre tax charge placed upon it.
To say that alcoholism is a crippling disease which destroys not only the alcholic but also his or her family, is a sweeping understatement. I speak, sadly, from bitter experience.
It is many years now since I divorced my alcoholic husband, but the years leading up to the divorce were some of the saddest and most stressful in mine and my children's lives, not least because I was helpless to save someone I genuinely cared about, someone moreover who was hellbent on destroying himself and his family for the sake of the next drink. This was a man who was a graduate engineer with a high salaried job, clever and intelligent but with his finger firmly on the self-destruct button.
I believe the jury is still out as to whether alcoholism is an inheritary disease or not but it is definitely a condition that does seem to run in families and, possibly, nations. My husband was Scottish and that does seem to be a country divided into the abstemious and the profligate drinker. A sweeping generalisation, I know, and I apologise unreservedly to all Scots who don't fall into the latter category. In fact, Britain as a whole seems to be populated with many binge drinkers, which perhaps comes from our Viking forebears, as it certainly doesn't seem to affect quite as badly nations where drink is part of the culture. By that, I mean where alcohol is consumed with a meal in a family or other social situation. In Britain however, it's the norm to just go out for a drink with the express intention of getting at least merry if not blind stinking drunk. For many of us this is a phase we go through in early adulthood but for those less fortunate, it is the beginning of the slippery slope into alcoholism.
Recognising alcoholism isn't always easy. Many people just begin as social drinkers but perhaps through stress, a sense of inadequacy or some other reason known only to the drinker, gradually the need to drink takes over.
I know there are many people who are heavy drinkers and regularly exceed their total units per week but though they may be damaging their health, especially their livers, they are not necessarily alcoholics. Personally, I would define an alcoholic as someone who cannot function without the crutch that alcohol provides and where drinking begins to impact on their personal and family life. Definitely, when a person begins to drink in secret then there is a problem which needs to be addressed.
Like other addictions, overcoming this antisocial condition is in the hands of the alcoholic himself (or herself). And they have to want something more than drink to succeed. There is help available through GP's surgeries and Alcoholics Anonymous but the problem drinker has to recognise their condition and want to change. I'm afraid many alcoholics tend to blame everybody but themselves and often fail to recognise they need help at all.
In my husband's case, it was too late. Although he tried on several occasions to dry out with the help of his GP, he just couldn't give up having a drink, always believing that he had conquered the problem and could return to having the odd drink. Alcoholics need to stop drinking alcohol altogether.
After our divorce and several years of living on the dole because he was unable to hold down a job, my husband eventually became homeless and was living on the streets. He developed pneumonia and because of his weakened state and poor physical health, he died.
I can't pretend to have any answers to overcoming alcoholism but if you are a heavy drinker who is beginning to find that life revolves around the pub and drink, or you are married to someone you suspect is drinking in secret, please take the bull by the horns and face the problem head on. It won't go away by ignoring it. Seek professional help.
For those of you living with an alcoholic, don't let them drag you down into the gutter with them. Eventually, if they can't help themselves, you have to cut yourself adrift and continue life without them. Only they can save themselves.
I'm supposed to rate alcoholism - how on earth do I do that? I would like to give my rating as -5 stars but I have had to give it 1 star. This is a false rating - there is nothing good about alcoholism.
Having said all the above and to try and end on a brighter note, not every alcoholic ends up living on the streets or dead. Many manage to overcome their addiction and live long, happy and fulfilled lives without alcohol.
Now I kinda understand why alcoholism is so highly rated. Seeing everything through a haze... Not caring very much about anything... And even losing any inhibition. But I'm not that drunk and still have some of that inhibition left lying around somewhere in my body. You might think this is just some drunkman babble, and maybe it is. But every pain is numb now, and all the problems seem somewhere far away... in the future too far to reach. All my senses running at low rates, just the minimum requirements, no one can see that I am drunk. Everything concentrated on keeping my balance and coherent talk. All this numbness is so welcome at this time. I feel almost weightless. Floating around other people. Just observing. It's like I have two consciousnesses, one wreckless and uncaring, and one that watches over the other one, correcting all its errors, seeing that the others don't notice its influence over me. Now I know how I felt at those parties, drunk out of my mind, just being purely myself, not caring, not worrying, not feeling anything else but the bare necessities of me. Dancing like a crazyman, or talking to anyone like I've known them forever. Maybe alcohol is the best drug, and what's so great about it is that it's legal. I remember that one time I was so drunk that when I was dancing I fell to the ground and just layed there. Oblivious of all the others that were dancing around, that there was someone pulling me back up. Everything was the same colour and texture, nothing special about anything. The floor felt like the most comfortable bed there ever was. And I didn't want to get up. I didn't want to go back to the real world, with its problems and issues that were all crashing down on me, suffocating me sometimes, but not enough to kill me completely, keeping me alive for more. I forgot about all of this and, probably, when I'll be sober, I will forget about this too. And I can feel the fumes of alcohol slowly retr
acting their claws from me. I am becoming sober by the second. The problems begin to come in focus with every breath I take, the numbness slowly fades into the harsh reality. And all I want is another shot. I begin to ponder on the idea that I could maintain this state for as long as I have its fuel. But I am out of fuel. So I must return myself to myself. As I can see things clearer and clearer I realize that what I have experienced was just an illusion, a dreamworld. And that all this can only lead to self destruction if abused. But if used with care and only on some occasions, it can be heaven. Again that drunkman talk. Just the basic dosage, slightly increased with every dose and it will be okay, maybe. Slowly losing touch with the reality that I cannot bare anymore. Just one more sip. And then another. And another. Forever. There should be glasses showing the world as I see it now. I'd never take them off. But now I'm almost sober. Colours regain their normal hue, my typing returns to its normal pace with errors disappearing. There's no more pink. Everything starts to gain the usual grey shade. I'll be laughing when I'll read this completely sober, but it will be a sour laugh. I'll even delete it maybe, but I'll have a short tremble in my fingers just before I'll do it. Just crazytalk, I'll think. If I could only send it now. So my sober-ego won't be able to do anything. Or maybe he will keep it as an evidence. A bad example of what I can be when I lose myself even a little. I am almost faded out. And I have to go eat now, which will only further push me away, leaving room only for the real me, the usual me. The one that is in control when there aren't any state-of-mind-altering-substances in my body, liberating something else than the everyday self. I will go now. And I will disappear. And now, after I ate, my brain began to resume normal operation, my vision began to regain crystal clarity
. I am almost back to normal, but not quite there yet. There is still something left. Something that is still hidden inside me, but not for long. Soon that will die out too. I shouldn't drink to feel better. I shouldn't slow down my senses just for the sake of losing touch, everything is still there when I get back. And what is to be dealt with I will deal with, there is no way out, there is nothing out there that will render me immune to worldly issues. I am just a mere mortal, that is, I'm dying like everyone else, a second at a time. I cannot sign this. I don't know who I am right now. My identity is still a little blurry. I am me, but I am altered.
Medical students have a reputation for being heavy drinkers. Within my first week at Medical School, in 1992, I discovered why... Many students drink. Actually, why limit it to students... many people drink. A lot. I can remember getting absolutely hammered on a regular occasion at the student bar, which was conveniently 2 floors above the lecture theatres. After 2 weeks, I drank so much "Green Monster Punch" (God only knows what was in it, but it was served from a huge bucket...) that I ended up throwing up all over the bar floor, almost gaining the year's first ban. Rag week (a rite of passage with the feeble excuse of raising money for charity) was a veritable orgy of drunken behaviour - one of my colleagues was arrested in central London for climbing up the outside of a block of flats. Another was admitted to hospital (fortunately not ours!) having set fire to his pubic hair by spraying lighter fluid on his private parts... As to what I got up to... anyway, moving swiftly on. On the last weekend of Rag Week, having drunk heavily all week, I managed a personal "best" - 90(ish) units in 2 nights. I didn't get out of bed for days, and was lucky to avoid having my stomach pumped (something which many of my colleagues unfortunately had to endure). I also remember the hospital controversy when 2 semi-comatose students were dragged down to A&E (a short walk along the corridor), only to be told by the recently qualified doctors on call to "Sod off back upstairs - there's drinking to be done". Many students continued their heavy drinking throughout med school (I'm still not sure what the link is between field sports like rugby and hockey with drinking...), but most of my closest friends cut back once we hit the wards. However, we still exceeded the "safe limit" on a regular basis. Then, I qualified (not sure how, bearing in mind how many lectures were missed due to hangovers!
). And then, the reality of drinking hit me. And now, I'll slip in just a little apology. I feel like an imposter here - I haven't suffered from alcohol addiction. Neither have my loved ones. But I have seen lots of people who have, so bear with me, please! My first job as a doctor was with a gastroenterology medicine firm. They deal with bowels... and livers... and pancreas. We had 3 dedicated "acute alcohol beds", for people with acute pancreatitis and liver failure. People came in, and suffered, and died. On a regular basis. I don't know how many of you have seen people in end-stage liver failure. But for those of you who haven't, let me give a brief overview. The skin is yellow. Not a little bit yellowish. Bright yellow. Imagine Bart Simpson on TV with the contrast turned right up. That yellow. The whites of the eyes are also dark yellow. That's due to the build up of bile salts in the blood. The abdomen is huge - like a balloon. In fact, it's not filled with air, but fluid. Litres and litres of fluid - we call this "ascites". Often, because we can't prevent the buildup of fluid, our only option is to stick a needle in, and drain off the fluid with a syringe. You can only take a bit at a time. What's a bit? About 3-4 litres. Sometimes up to 7 or 8. But don't worry, there's plenty more. The limbs are usually wasted. That's because the muscles start wasting away. Usually, chronic alcoholics are malnourished, so their faces look gaunt, almost skeletal. Oh, and then there's the incontinence, the delerium (imagining spiders crawling on the skin is the classic)... believe me, it's not pleasant. So how does alcohol do that then? First, alcohol causes an accumulation of fat in the liver cells (so called "Fatty Liver"). Because this impairs the function of the liver cells, blood tests would be abnormal, but
this is reversible, and if someone stops drinking, it'll return to normal. However, fatty liver can then progress to more permanent scarring of the liver, and cirrhosis, which is irrerversible. By this stage, the liver function is permanently impaired, and, depending on how much of the liver is cirrhosed, people may become symptomatic. Alcohol can also cause an inflammation of the liver "alcoholic hepatitis", which can also lead to liver scarring and cirrhosis. And that's just the liver. Add to that the acute pancreatitis - (severe abdominal pain, with the possibility of coma and death), Korsakoff's Psychosis - (Confusion, Hallucinations, Amnesia) and bleeding oesophageal varices - (sudden rupture of the blood vessels inside the oesophagus - leading to rapid and violent vomiting of large amounts of fresh blood, and the possibility... you guessed it... of death), and you haven't got a very pretty picture at all. Just 2 months ago, one of our patients died from chronic alcohol abuse. She was in her mid-40s. She had 3 children. The youngest was only 8. The oldest spends all her time in the pub now... This isn't taken from a book. This is real life. This is what I've seen with my own eyes. It's happening around us all the time. As for me. I'm now a lightweight - I can only stomach about 2 pints before I feel I've had enough. What about you?...
Most people like a drink, but a recent study by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) suggests that a larger number of people are drinking to excess. The survey found that 27% of men and 14% of women were exceeding the "old sensible" limits of regular drinking. The figures show that consumption is highest amongst the 18 to 24 age group. So what is driving so many young people to drink to the limit? The question is that rather than being a personal addiction has the UK's love of a 'Swift half' turned into a pandemic social virus. Since the IAS started running its alcohol studies in 1988 its findings have shown a clear pattern. More young people are drinking to excess. In 1988, 35% of young men were drinking more than the recommended 21 units a week, while 18% of young woman drank more than 'safe' limit of 14 units. By 2001, these percentages were 42% and 26% respectively. A unit of alcohol can be measured as a half pint of 3% bitter/lager, a glass of average strength wine (approximately 10%) or a single measure of any normal spirit. A popular misconception is that all pints of bitter or lager count as 2 units. If tour regularly drinking Stella or Kronenberg 1664 then your average 4 pints in an evening is going to be about 12 units. Drink that amount on Friday and Saturday night and you're above the recommended limits without really pushing the boat out. The increase has occurred ever with the increased publicity given to medical and mental problems associated with large alcohol consumptions. The IAS study makes particular mention of the associated link between drinking and liver and stomach cancers at one end of the scale as well as the less cases of minor hospitalisations caused by alcohol. In 1995 the survey says, "there were 20,727 admissions to NHS hospitals for alcohol dependence and 2076 admissions for alcohol poisoning" While in 1996, 4484 people died of alcohol related medical proble
ms. The IAS suggests several reasons for the increased numbers of young people drinking. One is that a greater number of young people have a disposable income. Which taken on it's own doesn't add up to much. The IAS study shows at the same time that the advertising on alcohol has reached record levels. In the UK in 2000, advertising expenditure on alcohol equal £227.3 million. The IAS study argues that it is these two factors together account for the increase. The figures show that alcohol abuse is on the rise and many people probably do realise that they are in some way addicted to booze. Addiction is always seen as a personal psychological problem but remove it from a social environment that thrives on a 'drink and drugs' culture and your missing out on the wider picture. On a personal level alcohol addiction can be a devastating force, wrecking the individual and those around them life, but as a social problem it?s widely ignored and often glamorised by the media and drink?s corporations. Ask the average young drinker and you get a variety of reasons why they drink. Mark, 25 said "alcohol gives you a boost of self-confidence and makes you happier. So it's a going-out thing". Others developed this argument. Christian, 28 said "From the age of 16 to about 25 I used to drink a lot about 12-14 pints on a weekend night. Why? To get totally out of my brain when clubbing." he added " Now I drink a lot less. The older I get the less well my body deals with hangovers. And the less I feel the need to get drunk." For others though drinking was less a matter of excess and more about the pleasure. Aaron, 33 said "I drink because I like the taste and the effect, but I don't drink that much." He did though admit to the occasional binge "I really only drink socially, either at gigs/parties or on works nights out. On these occasions I do usually consume quite a bit though&quo
t; Most people admitted to drinking at least once or twice a week, mainly at the weekend and most in moderation. There were also a few horror stories, like Henrik who said " when I tried absinth for the first time. I took 2,5 glasses, 15 minutes later my memory went out, I woke up 6 hours later on the floor of the club." Not many people would admit to be addicted to alcohol, but its clear from some of the drinking patterns that some are pushing themselves to the limit without realising. And that's where the rub of the problem lies. Many people have already questioned the author about his experiences of addiction. Well it's time the truth was told. My alcohol problems began like some many others when I started drinking underage. From the age of 15, a visit to the local offie or the notorious under age drinkers pub (every town has one) was the weekend activity for me and my friends. I started like most drinking cheap canned beer (Bowman's bitter anyone) before moving up the scales to drinking the monster that is Special Brew. At this time I was younger and fitter and apart from a few mild hangovers, there was no real addiction or problems. My University years were much the same although boozing became a more often experience perhaps 3 or 4 times a week. Still no problem. However in my final year I started to get problems, consumption followed by diarrhoea and back again. A visit to the doctor brought back a verdict of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) supposedly bought on by the stress of my exams. Of course I hadn?t talk the doctor of the full scale of my alcohol consumption (now up to 5 nights a week). This coupled with a increasingly poor diet (Word of Warning: Living purely off cheap take-away curry is not a good idea) After University, I returned to living with my parents and started earning money. My drinking went up with my increase in funds. It was normal to drink 7 or 8 pints of S
tella on a Friday and Saturday night (21 to 24 Units in on night, not good). Things weren't helped by the fact I began to drink to deal with the fact my father was dying of bowel cancer. Alcohol became my crutch to deal with this emotion overload. My health rapidly went down hill with my IBS bringing me much pain and discomfort. Its difficult to explain to people why you feel like a balloon must of the time. However it didn?t stop my ravenous drinking habits. I was addicted even though I still find it hard to believe. It wasn't until my Dad's death that I realised that I had a problem. Instead of going cold turkey over the last few years I have slowly (and I mean slowly) decreased the amount I drink. I'm in no way teetotal and still enjoy a good drink at the weekend, but now I feel I have more control over my drinking. Or maybe it still controls me. As they say its the realisation that you have a problem that is the key to deal with a problem.
I have a male friend, who by admission, is an alcoholic. He is thankfully, now going through rehab. Please read this story I am about to write. It is all true, and luckily no one was killed! My friend ’’C’’, started drinking at age 15, he is now 36 and lucky to be alive. At age 17 ’’C’’ got his first DUI ticket.(Driving under the influence of alcohol). He was on his way home from a party at a friend's house, where drinking parties were all the rage, every weekend. He was stopped at a red light and fell asleep!. Thank goodness for some reason, his foot remained on the brake pedal and his car didn’t careen into oncoming traffic. The person in the car behind him alerted the police when ’’C’’ didn’t drive when the light turned green. He was arrested, spent 3 nights in the lock up, until bail was made, went to court and was fined $250.00 and given 30 days of community service. At age 19, ’’C’’ was driving his car after a night of partying with his friends again. The drinking bashes were now going on during the week as well as every weekend now. He swerved off the road, the car landed in a ditch after rolling over. This time he was not so lucky. He was badly hurt. Both legs were broken and had to be set with pins, one kidney was smashed and had to be removed and he was hospitalized for 3 months. Once released from the hospital, he went to court, was sentenced to 90 days this time and given a $500.00 fine. And time goes on... Once again ’’C’’ is driving under the influence of alcohol, driving irratically and pulled over by a highway patrol officer. He was again on his way home from yet another party. It was now a way of life for him . He is taken in again to be held over until trial at which time the judge revokes his license for 5 years and he has to spend 30
days in lock up and do 500 hours of community service plus pays a $750.00 fine. There were 2 more incidents after this one! I can't believe he hasn't learned!! At last, now at age 36 ’’C’’ has his drivers license back. And I will now tell you how he is staying sober. ’’C’’ joined ’’AA’’ (Alcoholics Anonymous) and goes to meetings regularly. He has also joined a support group, where many people go 2 times a week to just talk about why they drink, the problem that cause them to drink and the many reasons they should not drink. He has also stopped ’’going out with his friends for just a beer to relax’’ after work. He stays out of most places that serve alcoholic beverages(So he is not tempted) and most of all, he thinks of the many things that could have happened to him and other people because of his drinking. He thinks about what his drinking has done to his family. And his life. He thinks about what he could have done with all the time and money spent on his addiction. And more than anything else he thinks of all he can accomplish now that he is sober. (’’C’’ has now been sober for almost 1 year, he says he does miss drinking sometimes, but, he cherishes life more) If you drink to excess, STOP NOW before you have to go through what ’’C’’ has gone through. If you don’t drink,DO NOT START as you’ve read here, it is very hard to quit. I myself do not drink, and am greatful that ’’C’’, who means as much to me as my family, no longer drinks either. Before you take that next (or your first) drink at a dorm or frat party, at a friend's house, at a party or club or bar... think of everything that could happen because of it. Alcohol is a very addictive drug. Addictions can
be treated! Alcoholism is a disease! Diseases can be treated! Think before you drink. The life you save, may be your own....or mine!!!!
I am the daughter of an alcoholic, and writing this opinion is going to be the hardest thing I have ever written. My father passed away four years ago. When he died he had been 'dry' for 9 whole years. He had just had his 90th birthday. This is how it is described by the AA,alcoholics anonymous. I was very proud of him. He fought and struggled against this terrible illness for many years. I dont know how long he had been an alcoholic for, I can remember him being so for most of my childhood and I am 41 years old now. I understand it all started when I was very young, and I think it was all due to several things. Stress, his company, his marriage, the friends he mixed with. Probably a combination of all these things and a lot more. At some point he found solice in the bottom of a glass and went on for years being able to function in a normalish fashion with a couple of bottles of scotch inside him. This was the norm for years. People would have no idea he had been drinking. Eventually this could no longer happen, the day came when he would have to drink so much to 'scatch the itch' he would be falling down drunk. This goes on and on until the drinker admits he has a problem and hits his rock bottom. My dad had a few rock bottoms. He lost his best friend and business partner, who was also an alcoholic, when he crashed his own plane into the side of a mountain, he was drunk. Then he lost his business. Then he lost his wife,my mother. I can hear them fighting now.With that he lost his children. Then he lost his dignity, his pride, his purpose. He had hit his rock botttom. He found a new job, a new partner with children, and he got his family back. Myself and brothers and sister where allowed to see him again. He had everything going for him, again. He drank. He Lost it all again. And again and again, until he w
as an old man. He spent thousands of pounds in drying out clinics, all only gave him sobriety short term. His new partner had had enough also by this time, she had stood by him, and fought to keep their heads above water, everytime they lost the house and business they built up. He was alone, living in a council flat, no partner, no money, no friends. The large executive houses, the expensive cars, the businesses, the so called friends,the exotic holidays. All Gone. His brother and sister, who lived 280 miles away, along with a couple of his children stood by him and decided this was it. I had a phone call at work one day, from the man next door from my dad, urging me to come over. I dropped everything, as per, and drove the 12 miles to his house. There I found my lovely Dad, naked except for his shirt, sitting in the gravel car park, bleeding from the cuts and falls from the gravel. He was crying, please God help me. He was so drunk. I discovered the local off licence had been taking him booze round, charging him a fiver to do so. I called in the cavalry, his sister, my brother. We got him booked into the nearest hospital where they dried him out. He then went 280 miles to stay with one of my brothers until he could face coming home. He refused to come to live with me, or anyone, so the council helped me find him a flat near me. When he returned he took any little job he could find, even though he was retired, he was 60. He even washed cars on a forecourt in the middle of winter. He joined the AA, alcoholics anonymous, and although I understand it does not work for everybody, this was a big turning point for him. He had a daily plan with them, along with the 12 steps, and it became a big part of his life. He made lots of new friends, and had a social life, he could have fun and company without having a drink. He hated it a first, he hated everyone in it too, but he stuck with it an
d it saved him. I used to go to open meetings with him, family days, family weekends. I was not keen at first either, I was only doing it so he wouldnt drink again. But I came to enjoy it too, I got a lot from it, and learnt a lot, not only about my Dad or alcohol, but about my life, myself. Its very sad for me to say that even in the AA there are people who are not very nice people, cheats and no good friends. But it is not their fault, they are not recovered and they are still ill. Its a common thing that happens, many friends and family give up on a person who is a alcoholic.They kick a dog when its down. I no way could do that. Going to AA with my dad, learning about this devil of an illness, tought me a lot,and anyway I could see futher than that fall down drunk obnoctious person who was supposed to be my Dad, I clung on to how much he loved me, how much he could not help it, how much I loved him. I am pleased I did. I got my old dad back. A lovely man, with a huge heart and a fantastic sense of humour. A very proud humble man. A brilliant Grandad to my sons. He bent over backwards to make ammends with everyone he had hurt, sadly not everyone had it in their heart or head to forgive and forget, but the ones left who meant the most to him did.He lived for nine years sober. I was and I still am very proud to call him my father. He died due to a bad heart, no doubt a lot to do with the hard life and drinking. But he died with the sobriety, serentity and dignity he strived for. God Bless Him. *********** This is my own personal opinion, my experience, and in no way meant to judge, condone or hurt anybody in anyway shape or form. ************