Alcoholism – Addiction, Escape, Waste

Here is something I wrote years ago, but is ever relevant . . .  And nowadays, we ought to talk about addiction in wider terms.  Prescription drug abuse is rampant and who knows how many lives are wasted because of it.  Bottom line, respect yourself and watch for the danger signs of dependency.

Ten Simple Clues

In all the years that I’ve written a newspaper column “Out My Window” and now this blog of “From Out My Window”, I’ve repeated very few columns.  One is  of ‘Lilacs’  used  on Memorial Day, and  now the one I use today,  because two people have told me that my ‘questions’, as seen below, were eye-openers for them, and that just maybe they might do the same for another.

And there’s one more person I meet occasionally, a delightful person, but who, I’d be willing to bet, will become, or already is, an alcoholic.  I wanted to talk to him, but didn’t, for there would have been anger, and I’d have been told, truthfully, that it was none of my business.  But at one stage of my life I was active in AA, and while not alcoholic myself, I learned an awfully lot.

One was this list of the following questions and I’ve used them in many ways over the years because they were true then and are just as true today.

If you answer ‘Yes’ to even one of the following questions,  the chances are you have a problem, and if you answer “Yes” to three or more, you are an alcoholic.  It may take years before you admit it, but the course of the disease is relentless, constantly  down-hill and continues to worsen until admitted and faced.

Don’t tell your answers to anyone, but for your own sake, answer truthfully to yourself, and oh how I wish, hope, that even one person will read, and let them  make a difference.

1. Do you ever take a drink in the morning?
2. When people mention drinking do you walk away in anger, thinking they were speaking about you, and wish they would mind their own business?
3. Have you ever (secretly) felt that your life would be better and easier,  if you stopped drinking?
4. Have you ever said to yourself, “I can stop drinking anytime I want”, and then poured yourself another drink?
5. When having guests or going to a party, do you ever pour yourself a secret drink, before-hand, just to ‘get in the mood’?
6. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or two, and then found yourself drinking again within one or two days?
7. Does your drinking ever cause trouble at home?  At school? On the job?
8. Do you ever have black-outs? Partial memory loss?
9. Have you ever gotten drunk when it was the last thing in the world you wanted to do?
10. Have you ever switched from one kind of liquor to another in hopes the change would keep you from getting drunk?

Simple, aren’t they?  But that simplicity is deceiving, and all the disbelief in the world won’t change the truth of them.  Or your answers.

Take Question 8.  A blackout doesn’t mean ‘passing out’.   Blacking out means that you were on your feet, talking, laughing, dancing, or whatever,  but the next day you can’t remember one thing of what happened.  You ‘blacked out’ and it’s a mean thing, for no one there would have seen one thing odd in your behavior.

Now, it doesn’t help if a spouse or parent recognizes these traits and tries to help by telling you.  The one who has the disease will fight back, maintaining ‘there is no problem’,  (See No. 4) and, anyway, ‘living with you would drive anyone to drink’.
And if No. 7 is brought up, it will always be someone else’s fault.  Always, always, always, and never, never, never, theirs.

But thank heavens today we all know about alcoholism from TV, internet, radio or magazines.  You will find AA meetings in your own neighborhood, across town, or if you wish to be truly anonymous, there are groups which absolutely insist upon it.  Where even  your Last Name is forbidden from use and Nick-Names only allowed.

It’s not an easy journey, but the sooner the alcoholic recognizes the disease, and only then, can it be controlled.   And, as I once learned, it is not a case of just the alcoholic needing help, but everyone whose life has been closely touched also needs help.  Which is why meetings for the non-alcoholic partner, teens, adults and even for adult children of alcoholics are well attended.

It’s a mean, progressive disease, and if someone recognizes the disease and stops drinking, but, years later decides one small drink would do no harm after all this time, they’ll find it  one  horrible mistake, for the disease progresses whether you drink or not, and that ‘first drink’ doesn’t react as it did years before, but in a far more terrible way, and stopping far harder to do.  It’s nothing to play games with.  At all.

As I said, I quite often get requests for these words to be repeated, and I hope that the one I met so briefly, will get the help that is now so easy to find.  Miracles do happen, you know, and my trust in such is why I now,  and again repeat my words, at the beginning of what is usually a time of heavier than usual casual, social drinking, and that my words just might help at least one such person.  Cross your fingers.  Mine are.

2 thoughts on “Alcoholism – Addiction, Escape, Waste

  1. Like everyone I hate looking at my self thru other’s eye. And while I don’t suffer from alcohol there are those ‘other’ behaviors that embarrass my memory and make this column rich with encouraging admonitions.

  2. Jim, I look forward to your comments. and this one makes me realize how much we learn ABOUT OURSELVES, but FROM OTHERS.
    y ou know the old s aying, ‘Oh, would some power give us , to see ourselves as others see us.’

    Most often, it’d make us flinch. Hope to most often able to ‘ see your words again and often.’ ethel

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