Addiction, Part 2

Now and then the thought surfaces in the drinker’s awareness that he or she might have a psychiatric problem. Those around the drinker also can wonder if that is where the problem lies. He is a perfectionist at some times and a slob at others. Though occasionally cooperative, he is often a stone wall.

His life if full of broken commitments, promises and dates that he often doesn’t remember making. It is a true drama played out in the family and community. Most of all the behavior denotes guilt. Extreme defensiveness accompanies alcohol-dependent drinking. This is one of the key behaviors that is picked up on early and seen, but not understood by others. Behaviors that can only be described as that of a drunken slob are obvious, but often the really heavy drinking is secretive and carefully hidden. It would be easier to pin down the problem if the behaviors only occurred with a drink in hand. This is rarely the case. The behaviors are sometimes more pronounced when the alcoholic is “on the wagon” or working very hard at controlling his drinking. The confusion, anger, frustration and depression are omnipresent until a radical change occurs in the relationship with alcohol.

The transformation in the personality can be described and explained quite well in the book and film called “I’ll Quit Tomorrow,” by Vernon Johnson. Becoming familiar with the four stages he talks about will be helpful in dealing with those who are alcohol/drug dependent. He describes what emerging alcohol dependence feels like from “inside out.”

In closing, alcohol and drug dependence is not a sin or a weakness. It is a physiological effect of changing tolerance. It caters not to specific groups, classes, religions, age or sex.

It does not discriminate, and it does not choose its victim. The truth is that only three percent of alcoholic/addicts are skid-row bums, and the rest are just like you and me. The good news is there is hope and healing for those who no longer want to live inside the bottle, or at the end of a crack pipe, looking out at the world.

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