No room for anyone or anything but ALCOHOL!
by Ned Wicker
There is nothing like having that one close friend, the person you can tell everything to.
You can share everything because there is trust, respect and a firm bond to hold the relationship together. Marriage is a beautiful relationship, especially when people are married for decades, as wives and husbands become a part of each other at a deeply spiritual level.
Likewise, the closeness that a child feels to a parent is another special relationship that lasts a lifetime. People grow to care more about the other person than they do about themselves. That intimate, personal connection brings comfort, security and joy to life. Sometimes, however, one side is taken away.
Drifting away because of alcohol
People who have gone through the experience of having someone they love drift away because of alcohol, a person who was close to them, a person who shared their interests, their joys and who was there for them when times were bad, understand all too well how painful it is when that person is no longer there.
It’s painful because we can see it happening, as little by little people get overtaken. Alcoholism is like that. As a person becomes more and more dependent, as the clutches of alcoholism take hold of them, they let go of the things that matter most. The disease takes center stage and the disease demands all of the spotlights.
I get so much mail that tells this story. The individual circumstances change, the lives of the people are different, but the story is so sadly similar. The daughter of an alcoholic wrote and told me about her experience of her mother, herself and their relationship as the alcoholism took hold of ever aspect of her mother’s life.
At the end of her mother’s life, there was the alcohol and little of anything else. She told me that she was not a drinker, expressing gratitude for being spared. However, she added that her boyfriend was an alcoholic and she feared going through the whole experience again. I got the sense that she was a caring, gentle person, who was earnestly seeking help.
Don’t know where to go for help
People do want help, but they don’t know where to find it, or they are uncertain exactly what kind of help they need. A good first step is to not worry about what question to ask, but to go where someone can help you.
Al-Anon’s web site will ask you a series of questions, and it’s likely that your “ah ha” moment will come as a result of considering those. A phone visit with a representative of a local drug and alcohol treatment center will likely be enlightening, as you begin to learn about what you can do to help.
People feel so isolated, but it doesn’t have to be that way, as help is out there. The daughter’s e-mail was heartbreaking for me because after all this time, she still didn’t know where to turn. Support groups are found in so many varieties, from Al-Anon to recovery groups in churches and synagogues. The problem is, in my own experience, people are not necessarily open to going to these types of groups because of the stigma of addiction. Confidentiality is important, and so if my neighbor sees me going into a recovery meeting, it might get around.
People often hide the issue of alcoholism
If it were a recovery group for people who have lost a loved one, that’s different. There’s no stigma. People are sympathetic. But if it’s alcoholism, drug addiction or some other behavioral condition, there’s a negative stigma attached to it, even though these are diseases that people can manage and recover enough to live a healthy and productive life. Society needs to rethink its attitudes towards alcoholism and drug addiction, and embrace the concept of support groups. If someone says they attend meetings, I praise their commitment. I respect those who go into treatment and do the work to overcome their disease. There’s no stigma, just understanding and compassion.
The daughter whose boyfriend is suffering from alcoholism knows too well that the disease is a part of the human condition. Her boyfriend could have congestive heart failure, or severe diabetes, or be fighting cancer. Society has sympathy for those. But the alcoholic, who got pulled into their condition drink by drink, didn’t want to be an alcoholic.
The disease developed in them, and might have left their brother or sister alone. They didn’t ask for this. But once the alcoholism got a firm hold on their lives, it doesn’t want treatment. Their lives had become unmanageable.
If someone you love is in trouble with alcohol, you’re not alone. If you don’t know what questions to ask yourself, consider those found on the Al-Anon/Alateen web site:
and use them for a first step. Help yourself first, get support and you will be in a much better position to help the person you love.