I am not sure if everyone would agree upon just one answer to this question. What I have learned is this, an alcoholic is the person and alcoholism is their disease! When I was a young teenager I drank every day to get drunk and smoked pot to get high and I craved it. So I asked……Why am I not an alcoholic? The answer is complicated but this is what I believe to be true. An alcoholic has both a physical craving and a mental obsession and they have no control after that first drink! I partied like a rock star for a few years and then I made a decision to get my life together and I just stopped, never had a craving or a problem stopping and I didn’t have the mental obsessive thinking or planning about it. So if anything I would say I went through a period of time were I abused alcohol & drugs but I wasn’t addicted.
There are people that have little to no understanding about what an alcoholic or alcoholism really is. One of my husbands family members said to him during a recent conversation that he “isn’t really an alcoholic” because he didn’t have to have a drink if he didn’t want one & that he could quit if he wanted too. What he is very ignorant to is that my husband could not stop on his own. My husband tried to explain about all the nights he spent passed out in his car in front of his house, or in his living room, or in a parking garage some where. How many times he poisoned himself with alcohol because he couldn’t control his drinking. The family member replied with “well you stayed here because you knew you weren’t okay to drive”. What you have to understand is that this person is in complete denial that he himself has a serious drinking problem. Some people like this person they don’t really believe alcoholism is a real problem some people just drink more in his mind.
Then there are other people like my father who have little knowledge about alcoholism. When we explain things like how my husband will need to continue his AA meetings and program for the rest of his life to help him remain sober the response is usually met with other questions only because he doesn’t understand but wants too. The other family member is almost like an enabler by making excuses because of his own denial. Many people believe it is all about just not drinking anymore but as we have learned along the way it is so much more than that. For example…… did you all know that if a person starts heavily drinking at say the age of 16 years old and they continue that for 30-40 years when they do stop drinking their mentality is actually that of a 16 year old because that part of their mind remains almost infantile. So when their recovery begins if you pay attention you can actually see them they grow up before your eyes.
Alcohol/drugs does so much damage to every part of your body…….your mind, heart, lungs, pancreas, liver, spleen, kidneys, your muscles. It affects your cognitive functions and your reactions to situations while under the influence are greatly affected by the drug that is in your system. I would suggest if you do not know much about alcoholism take the time to research it for yourself their are so many internet sites and books about the topic. Attend AA and Al-Anon meetings. Learn what the effects are both physically & mentally. It is a very sick evil disease, it doesn’t profile anyone it affects everyone!
This is such a broad topic please educate yourself on it. If you question whether or not you have a problem more than likely you do. As I have heard in the rooms of AA several times newcomers will say “I don’t know if I am an alcoholic” others respond with this……”Virgins don’t go to the doctor to see if they are pregnant so if your in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous chances are probably pretty good you are”.
The good thing is there is help if you want it but you have to do the work. I have heard so many wonderful stories over the past few years going to AA meetings with my husband. So many people dependent on alcohol or drugs close to death and they become the miracle you hear about in these programs! They become an example of how you can get sober, you can have control over your life again, you can be happy and free from any addiction and live a life worth living. It is touching to see some of these grown men stand up and have tears in their eyes when sharing a piece of their story that their family can now count on them, they can be trusted and they can finally be there when they are needed. These programs save lives everyday. When you have that A-Ha moment and realize you need help they all welcome you in with no judgment because your in a place where everyone understands the life you have been living because they to have lived that life and they are choosing to not have to live that way anymore, they never have to drink or drug again no matter what and neither do you! I hope you all find the strength to take that first step and admit your life has become unmanageable and you need help, that is the day your life will forever change!
Wishing you Peace & Serenity……….Harmony