Slow Death from drinking?
by Ned Wicker
Many people have struggled with this common question:How can I stop drinking and taking drugs? How to I get my husband, sister, mother etc. to stop drinking or taking drugs?
The best and easiest answer to this question is to GET CONNECTED TO A GOOD TREATMENT PROGRAM!
If someone found out they had cancer or a lung disease they would seek treatment for these conditions. But for some reason why some decides they have a drinking or drug problem they REALLY resist going in for treatment.
Finding an Approach to Addiction
Here is a true story that describes the process of discussing alcohol addiction with a patient. This is an effective discussion and can help them to begin to process to stop drinking.
Often the problem is alcohol.
As a hospital chaplain I’ve had many visits with addict/alcoholics, who are in for treatment for seemingly unrelated conditions. I say that because it doesn’t take long to see that the root of so many of their problems is their use of drugs and alcohol, especially the alcohol.
For example, there was a young man in for treatment for his pancreatic issues, but his medical history is all about alcohol dependence.
One of the chaplains at our facility came to me and asked about her approach to a patient, saying that she knew from speaking to the nurse that alcohol was the underlying culprit, but the patient refused to discuss that with her, electing to focus on the presenting diagnosis. She wanted to know what I would do.
“Why don’t you just talk about the elephant in the room?” I asked her. We talked about the stages of the disease, the seemingly endless denials, and the refusal to talk about the disease in the open. Chaplains are supposed to be comforting and supportive, but does that mean we avoid the elephant in the room? Does that mean we don't discuss how to stop drinking with them?
Committing suicide one drink at a time.
I once just came right out and asked a patient if they planned to commit suicide any time soon, or were they content to do it one drink at a time? Suicide wasn’t the plan at all, but it was a way of bringing the alcoholism out into the open.
The patient was a little surprised that I was so forward with my quarry, but nevertheless very open to discussing the disease and the negative impact it brought to his life. That conversation opened the door to treatment, an option which had never been discussed before.
We are so politically correct in this country. It’s sickening. We don’t talk about certain things for fear it will be offensive. Some things need to be offensive. The destruction that alcohol brings to people is offensive and the best way to tackle the problem is to meet it head on. My family never spoke of unpleasant things such as alcoholism, depression or any other emotional/psychological issue.
Often a family secret.
Like a dirty little family secret, alcoholism was never brought out into the open. That isn’t helpful, because bringing something terrible like alcoholism out into the open is the first step towards defeating it. That would have been a family discussion worth having.
Chaplains are supposed to walk around and talk about God, right? Have you ever thought of a chaplain as a sort of tour guide or life coach, someone who understands the human condition, accepts human frailty without prejudice and who without an agenda can be a loving and compassionate presence in the life of another?
Can chaplains understand addiction and actually help a person without pounding religion into them? Are chaplains allowed to talk about the elephant in the room?
I know this sounds like a rant, but we have all of these rules about things in society, spoken and unspoken. If simply providing comfort is going to hasten your death, why would I worry about being politically correct and other than spending a few minutes to say “Poor you” why should we waste the time? Sometimes we all need to be abrupt.
Drinking is part of the fabric.
Alcoholism is just a part of the fabric of America. Drinking is heavily promoted in the media, it is socially acceptable and expected, and even after exhaustive educational programs, alcoholic beverages are not considered particularly dangerous because you can buy them in any grocery store, or even the corner pharmacy.
People are going to drink no matter what.
While I am not an advocate of any form of prohibition, and our history clearly illustrates that the prohibition law was an abysmal failure, I am in favor of being open and honest about what alcohol does to people. The disease hides in the background of so many medical charts, but absent the alcohol consumption, those patients would probably not be seeking treatment for anything.
I Drink Regardless
I have pancreatitis, but I still drink, either because I want to drink knowing how harmful it is, or I just can’t stop drinking because I’m an alcoholic. Countless millions are spent on treating the effects of alcoholism each year, but it’s always the presenting condition that is discussed, not the cause.
The elephant in the room is rather large and getting larger. We Americans love our drinks and we can’t seem to enjoy life or appreciate anything without a drink in our hand.
We need our alcohol, because we are told to need it, through images of desirable social situations, scantily clad women and the endorsement of celebrities. What can I get you to drink? Gee, don’t you want something a little stronger?
We end this page as we started it, by noting that no two drug/alcohol treatment programs are alike nor should they be. The important thing to keep in mind is that other than denying a person access to drugs, successful treatment hinges on an individual’s willingness to be treated.
It’s all about management of the problem, and their wiliness to be part of the process.
Millions of people have learned how to stop drinking with these treatments and if you have a problem you can too!