Alcoholism is a fatal disease for anyone who allows it to go unchecked.
This disease affects the whole person, physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, psychologically and spiritually. It is a primary disease, which leads to other diseases, such as heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, brain damage and many others; but it can be stopped. It can be arrested, so that desperately ill people can return to productive, happy lives, provided habits they have learned while drinking alcoholically are changed.
These destructive habits are the ones that cause those in contact with practising alcoholics to shake their heads in amazement at the alibis that these drinkers dream up to cover their absenteeism, at the patently obvious “reasons” they invent for their drinking, at the offensive behavior they seem to have forgotten by the following day, at their memory lapses during blackouts and at their apparent inability to see that their lives are disintegrating around them.
In part, the development of alcoholism is aided by the reaction to the disease that carries a social stigma compared with the reaction to conventional diseases. When someone gets pneumonia, develops an ulcer or begins to stagger from diabetes, it is expected that he or she will seek diagnosis and accept treatment. Family members and workmates will sympathetically encourage them to accept this treatment. However, when the symptoms of alcoholism begin to appear and start to affect the whole life of the alcoholic, he or she is told to “pull yourself together”, and to “exert some will-power” and to “cut down on your drinking”.
By the very nature of the disease, the alcoholic cannot recognise that heavy drinking is the major cause of his or her problems and that they cannot stop, even though they attempt to cut down on intake or to give up.
It is falsely believed that alcoholism is self-induced, self-inflicted and evidence of lack of character. A lack of realisation that alcoholism is just another disease delays or prevents treatment being sought. Alcoholism is a disease that is treatable and capable of being arrested.
Since alcoholism causes problems at work and within the family, it might be expected that pressure would be brought to bear on the alcoholic to accept treatment. In fact, the opposite occurs. As holding down a job is socially and economically desirable, the family covers up for absenteeism, it maintains silence about abusive drinking and matrimonial discord; and within the family the extent of the drinking is blamed on work stresses and ill health. At work, fellow employees cover up for the reduced productivity.
Underlying this reluctance in both the family and work place to force the alcoholic to seek treatment is the stigma attached to alcoholism, because it is not recognised by most people, as a disease.
Quite often, unlike other diseases, alcoholism is left untreated. Sustained pressure from within the home or from within the work place comes only when the disease is well advanced and clearly apparent to all. The alcoholic, by this time, has undergone profound mental changes, which prevent self-recognition or admission of being alcoholic.
The major changes that occur can be seen in statements by alcoholics, which seem like alibis, but in fact, represent changes in the thinking processes as the amount of drinking increases.
If you have a loved one or you know someone who is suffering from this fatal disease, contact the writer, Wendy Perkins, at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.couragetochange.com.au because, with the assistance of supplements, counselling, exercise and good nutrition, alcoholism can be put into remission, but never cured. Total abstinence is required to start the journey of recovery followed by counselling.
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