Alcohol has played a major role in my life. I personally do not suffer from alcohol abuse, but people I love and care for do. So many of us have a family member, friend, or colleague who currently is suffering from an addiction to a controlled substance. It affects everyone with whom they come in contact. I grew up in a household where alcohol was abused on a daily basis. Seemingly, it clouded the judgement of the people who were supposed to be loving and nurturing me. The actions of physical and verbal abuse were easier to accomplish when the responsible parties were intoxicated. “I didn’t know what was going on!” “I don’t remember; I was drunk.” Whatever. It happened a long time ago and the “why” is just not important now. In reality, I’ve never been angry, but rather sad for those involved. It could have been so much different for them.
For many years, I have believed that a person “chooses” to be an alcoholic. I certainly have had that gene present in me and it would have been easier each and every time that my own life’s tests and personal challenges got too overbearing or too difficult to succumb to the numbing affect of alcohol. After all, I would have an excuse; “It’s how I grew up,” and everyone would shake their head and say what a shame it was. However, because that’s all I knew and I saw each “parent” screw up his/her life for different reasons, I chose not to drink to become numb to reality. I chose not to abuse myself . That’s how I’ve come to view dependency on drugs and alcohol… personal abuse.
Now, after many years, I am still wondering if it is a choice… or is it an illness?Certainly, there are enough articles and studies to say that it might be an illness. However, it is undeniably odd that it just seems to make “sick” those who are prone to not taking responsibility for their own actions in life. Harsh, but true.
I will assume for arguments sake, that it is an “illness.” Well, if one had a cold, broke a leg, or had Cancer… they would seek professional treatment, right? I do not see this happening with most alcoholics. My family knew what they had to do to “heal” but chose not to stop. Ever! Actually, they would boast about their drinking. My mother died at 59 from liver cancer that spread to her brain… from being an alcoholic. She was angry and unhappy until her last breath. So much for the alcohol. Did she drink to forget or forget when she drank? I was afraid to ask.
Again, in my own life, I am experiencing someone who choses to drink rather than face up to the challenges and setbacks they are dealt. (There are so many of us who have friends or relatives with some extent of addictions to drugs or alcohol.) The term gut-wrenching comes to mind; it’s how it feels inside of me as I watch them destroy their life. It appears to be what they are actually choosing for themselves or why don’t they stop?
When a person drinks their entire personality changes. Everyone’s! Under the influence or high one says and does things that they might ordinarily not do. Everyone! They become empowered… or so they think. Their actions are destructive, disrespectful, and deeply hurtful to anyone and everyone they come in contact with during this “high.” The apologies afterward, although sincerely given, are soon forgotten. Forgotten by them, but still painful to the receiver who undoubtedly will remember forever.
My constant Mantra is that life is not easy, it’s not supposed to be. For all those selfishly reeking havoc on families and loved ones because of excessive drinking or drug abuse…we love you and are worried about you. Actually, you are slowly but surely taking your own life. Seek medical attention, just like you would if you had any other illness. You can do it if you believe that you can. It’s hard, it’s not a quick fix, and it can’t be done on your own. Again, I’ve been there and seen it fail. The first test or challenge the “crutch” resurfaces for support and the abuser is right back where they started.
On the other side of the substance abuse– the world is waiting. Your gift is life. Right now, it’s just existing not living.