The story of alcoholism begins with both the person and their whole family believing that alcoholism could not affect them. The family member is in denial of their heavy drinking, and the entire family joins them in the dissent, thinking their loved one could not be a problem drinker. Their denial becomes the barrier to addressing the needs for recovery. Rationalizations protect them from feeling the shame and fear experienced in acceptance of alcoholism in their family. Drinker and family offer explanations of why it cannot be true, they are just a social drinker, there are no alcoholics in the family, they never miss work, they are too young, they are too old, they don’t drink and drive, they don’t drink alone, on and on the reasons provide the faulty reasons of why this can’t be. The alcoholic and the family unit desperately want to believe there is no problem.
There is no religion, social standing, or love that gives full protection from the disease of alcoholism. Once the concern becomes real, families look for solutions. Sometimes they try having a “firm” talk with and bargain for sobriety. Negotiations result in disappointment and frustration. Codependency grows as the loved ones try various ways to control their drinking. Not understanding that alcoholism is a disease, not weak will power, makes attempts to promote sobriety fail. Families put off treatment and find excuses for why it is not needed. They look for short term solutions at first, not recognizing recovery needs time.
The Process of Recovering from Alcohol Abuse
Not drinking is the first necessary step to recovery. It is a brilliant start but by no means the finish. Due to the shame and secrecy bred into the diagnosis, the strain can be devastating to the person suffering and everyone that cares about their life. Families often consider that the problem lies only with the alcoholic, and if they stop drinking, everything will be fine. Loved ones need to heal from the anger, frustration, shame, self-blame and broken hearts often surrounding alcoholism. This help can be found in treatment and family therapy.
The reality that alcohol kills more people than all other drugs combined has faded into the background of many discussions on addiction. With statistics that record 88,000 deaths related to alcohol a year in the United States in comparison to 15,000 from all other drugs combined, the question becomes – how is the devastation of alcoholism and effects on families slipping off of society’s radar? Fifteen million people in the United States are suffering from alcohol use disorders, with only 7% receiving treatment.
We need to bring the truth about alcoholism from the darkness into the light.
Hope needs to replace fear.
Get Help Through Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Good treatment is available, free self-help support groups are prevalent, and recovery from alcoholism and the impact on families is possible.
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