Things I Wish People Knew About Alcoholism and Addiction
As I write this, my sobriety is shot to the Nether Regions. I'm once again fighting my battle against alcohol relapse and cravings. Which got me thinking, what do I wish people understood about addiction?
The Top 3 Things I Wish People Knew About Alcoholism
1. We are powerless.
There's a reason that the First Step is "Admitted we were powerless over alcohol/narcotics and that our lives had become unmanageable." It's because that's exactly what happens! No one in their right mind would choose to be addicted to alcohol or narcotics. We just discovered that we're addicted and that the addiction has spun out of control.
The oldest lie in the book is the blame game, a.k.a. "This is why I drink/use." We don't need a reason to drink or use, we just drink or use for the sake of using. We're addicted. Our drug of choice is as important to us as breathing.
Comedian Doug Stanhope made the observation that there was no such thing as addiction, only things we loved more than life. That's addiction in a nutshell. We love our substance more than life itself. Only by realizing that can we even hope to find freedom from it. It's like one of my friends at Richmond State Hospital said in a letter to her addiction: "To my lousy lover".
2. We don't want to hurt you.
"But you do!" you may say. And yes, we do. I'll be the first to admit I've hurt a lot of people: my family, my church family, and myself. But we don't want to hurt anybody, least of all those we love. Deep inside every alcoholic/addict is a sense of remorse. That's the reason for Steps Four and Five. Once we make a fearless, searching moral inventory of ourselves, we realize that we've hurt a lot of people we never intended to hurt. And then we can admit to God, ourselves, and other human beings--like you--the exact nature of our wrongs.
I come from a family of alcoholics; my brother Dan has racked up two DUIs. I was once taken into police custody when my drinking triggered a suicidal episode. I've gone into the hospital while drunk and spent four months on a dual-diagnosis ward in a state psychiatric hospital. I've hurt a lot of people. But that was never my intention. I simply wanted to escape from a chronic, unbearable pain.
I doubt Dan's intention was ever to hurt us. I suspect that he, too, wanted to escape. Chances are the alcoholic or addict that you love feels the same way. That's why we're apologetic and contrite when sober--we never wanted to hurt you. We just wanted a way to deal with the pain life has thrown at us.
3. We've got a lot of pain and anger.
Scratch an alcoholic or addict, and you'll find blood. Every alcoholic or addict I've known have a great deal of pain, and as a result of that pain, anger. We are, ultimately, people in a great deal of pain. Some of it is from the past, some of it is from the present. I drink to forget the pain of my childhood and the pain of my present. Many alcoholics and addicts can relate to that statement.
The first step in recovery is to admit the pain. Once the pain is acknowledged, we can face it. Once we face it, we can heal from it. Once we heal from it, we can begin a life of sobriety.
The anger is the same way. We have to admit that we are, deep inside, very angry people. This anger needs to be faced before it can be conquered. Once we conquer the anger, we can live a sober life--not a use-free life as a dry drunk, not a use-free life as someone who is unbearable to be around because we still need the substance, but as we truly are--people who love a good time with those closest to us. Once we conquer the anger, we can be in-the-moment people who aren't struggling to keep from blowing up.
We don't want to hurt you. We do love you. But we have a sickness that needs our immediate and undying attention. After we tend to that, we can keep from hurting you and truly give the love you deserve.
Oberg, B. (2013, March 12). Things I Wish People Knew About Alcoholism and Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2013/03/things-i-wish-people-knew-about-addiction
Author: Becky Oberg
Being out of control and addicted to anything is a concern. I think that the pain and the anger is already there or the need to dull it would not be required. To go from powerless to power takes time and help and people should not be ashamed to ask for it.