Alcoholism is the silent terrorism that we face, destroying people and families with containers in every shape and size with fluids in every color and flavor. And like terrorism it hurts not only those that are directly affected by it but also the friends and families of those that care and love the people taken down by the attacks. You know people that have been affected by alcoholism and you aren’t sure what the solution is and even when you try to have a voice on the matter, there are many other opinions and ideas that scatter away a solid solution to the problem.
Personally I have seen many facets of addiction with alcoholism being just one of them. Fortunately for me I have not succumbed to the peril that addiction creates in people. I joke that I am addicted to chocolate but that doesn’t even come close to the desperation people feel when they absolutely need their fix. Try going without air for awhile and you will get a sense of the choices you have to make to get that next breath. I will admit that the example given is about as close as I can get to the real thing. I see people addicted to cigarettes all of the time and I understand that they cannot just stop, the chemical, physical, and mental challenges are just too great.
However, it is my observation that alcoholism is a condition that reaches beyond merely addiction but also has roots in the way people treat others or the ability to handle situations that bring lasting pain, fear, and suffering to which one cannot find any other escape from. I have been there myself and felt the desire to just take something to let the pain go, to escape from the ordeal I was going through and in a bittersweet way I could not take that drink.
Sometimes when life gets really stressful or really sad for me I think about drinking. Like everything, I think about that act in many different ways and usually I find myself getting a bottle of water because I cannot justify the alcohol. In contrast I have a friend that is an alcoholic that has stopped drinking but when I said I had a glass of wine at a social event he asked if I got just wasted, expecting that I kept drinking all night. He doesn’t have the ability to have that social drink, he cannot rationalize it. This is why, despite he no longer drinks, he is still an alcoholic.
More and more I see people lashing out at others whether it be another human of no relation, a friend, a family member, or a group of people because of a difference in opinion, view, or some other petty reason. By putting people down and oppressing their freedoms you grind away their ability to properly cope with life. Bullies come in all forms and their efforts can make people fall into dark areas in life and try to fight back in the only ways they think they can. Without a good support system, friends, family, groups that can help them through the pain and fear you end up with stark realities that few people make the connection with.
I read an article recently that talked with people that had committed acts of terrorism and had lived and were punished for it. They interviewed them to find out what was the root of their actions and it wasn’t an issue of mental disorder or political attack but actually that they had been abused, harassed, put down, and told that they weren’t worth anything. Constant direct oppression drove them to give up, not caring about themselves anymore, and to make one last stand to fight back against everyone they saw.
Another article was on the myth that Native Americans were genetically predisposed to be alcoholics because they hadn’t evolved with it like Europeans had. The reality is that they are a society that has been beaten down by an invading force of people and pushed to the edge of extinction and the remaining peoples were given less than human status for over 300 hundred years. That kind of abuse would make anyone more likely to drink, do drugs, or kill themselves.
The worst thing I hear though is the phrase that is something like “Someone with alcoholism has to ‘want‘ to get better.” Really? You want them to quit but do it on their own, without finding out the source of the problem and removing it first?
If you see people dealing with alcoholism and you want to help them, you need to give them a solution that they never had before and stick with it. There is no “quick fix” and it certainly will not be easy for either of you. Find out the reason, the source of the pain and find a solution for that then work on the addiction. Your help and support, your strength, is what is going to be the light for them to shine in.
And if you cannot be there to help someone stop their addiction then help stop the hate that drives the oppression. Don’t judge people and put them down. Don’t be so hateful to people you don’t fully understand. Be a better human.