Let’s talk about alcoholism…

People use the word alcoholism and alcoholic but are not always certain of what it means or what it actually is. It is a dependency or addiction to alcoholic drinks.

Some people say that if someone doesn’t drink spirits, they are not really an alcoholic. This is a complete untruth. It does not matter what type of drink the alcoholic prefers, if they habitually get drunk, they are probably an alcoholic.

People say that if someone doesn’t drink every day they are not an alcoholic. Again, this is untrue. Other things that people say are; the person has a job, they pay their bills, they drive, they spend time with their children. All of these things do not preclude alcoholism.

This bell curve shows the drinking habits and toleration of alcoholics. They begin drinking normally like any of us. But they will experience hangovers while many others don’t. Their desire to drink alcohol will increase, so they will drink more. They have an increased tolerance of alcohol, often consuming far more than their friends, and still function at work. However, they will begin to tell lies, especially about how much they drink. They will lie about why they are late, for example, or why they did not arrive where they were expected to be.

After time, the alcoholic will become drunk and have no memory of what they did or said during that time. They will have gained weight, especially around the neck, they may often appear flushed for extended periods of time and hangovers will be miserable.

Hangovers are a genetic hand down. People who get them are damaging their internal organs. Usually the liver and kidneys are damaged most and first, and then the heart. So if you get hangovers, you are very likely to become an alcoholic.

When an alcoholic begins to forget what he did or said while drink, we call it blackout. They may get into someone else’s car and drive it away, they may go home to wrong place, they may sexually assault someone. Anything. I know of someone who got into an ambulance and drove it away.

When someone has blackouts, things are seriously bad for their health. Their liver is failing, their kidneys are working overtime and their heart is far less than healthy. Blackouts can go on for years.

Finally, the alcoholic will stop tolerating large quantities of alcohol. They will begin to shake if they go too long without a drink. They won’t care what they drink, as long as it is alcoholic. Eventually, they may need to relieve themselves often, and even wet themselves.

During all this, they will be obvious of the effect of alcohol in their life and body. Denial is their worst enemy and best friend.

I know someone who died of alcoholism and would never admit he had a problem. I would at times meet him at the train station, and as soon as he got in my car he would ask me to stop at an off-license. I would agree, and planning my head where I could park near one. After a few minutes he would remind me to stop and I would reply that I had somewhere in mind. He would tell me exactly how many we had passed and I would try to prolong the conversation so we could get to my planned stop. He never started drinking in my car, he just needed to know it was in his hands.

He died alone in his flat. He hadn’t been seen for just over two days. The coroner’s report said that he would have had a severe bladder infection which led to kidney infection. He would have probably lost consciousness from high fever as the infection entered his blood stream. Organ failure was the cause of death.

Only one in twenty alcoholics get sober. They have to reach what is known as a rockbottom. This is different for every one. It may be a serious car accident, a heart attack. the break up of a marriage.

We tend to say that only an alcoholic can say whether they are an alcoholic. This is because we want them to have the honesty to admit it. However, an alcoholic can easily be spotted except by the people close to them. One alcoholic will affect up to ten lives, and at least three people will be enabling them to keep drinking without realising it. We call these people co-dependents and they need to recover too.

Do feel free to ask questions. This is only an overview. You may be worried about someone, or living in a situation I have described.

By Chrisssie Morris Brady

I've read poetry since I was nine and have written creatively since I was fourteen (probably long before that). After writing book reviews and social comment, I decided I wanted to write poetry. I have no formal training, but I surround myself with poets and their writing. I am honing my craft.
I have two published collections which I don't feel good about, but have been published by and other publications. I live on the south coast of England with my daughter. I am seriously ill.

14 replies on “Let’s talk about alcoholism…”

Thank you very much. this is my favorite topics because I’m proud that I have helped a bar people to say goodbye to the alcohol life. it is possible to do anything, only one of the views of man should be changed, even if a people has so much problem germ alcohol is not a solution. or!!!!!!!!!^/(^J°)

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Although there isn’t really a ‘type’. If one gets hangovers when starting to drink when young, it is a sign that one may become an alcoholic and is a definite sign of alcohol damaging one’s organs. I met City bankers in recovery, Members of Parliament, doctors, builders, and unskilled workers. I’ve also met the same synopsis of people never touching alcohol. The person I mentioned who died was a college lecturer with a wide area of interests. I have never had a hangover in my life, have been drunk on a handful of occasions and just as happy to not have alcohol as I am to have one, if it suits the occasion.

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That’s true. There is not one type. I used to drink in my teens. Less after. Now I don’t feel well the next day as it affects my health as I feel tired, depressed and not clear in my head. It takes weeks to get out of my system. The only thing it does help is my creativity. It must open certain channels. You see it a lot in famous people. Bukowski wrote his best stuff on alcohol. Jimmy Hendrix played well on lsd. I guess it brings out the blues and melancholy which can feed creativity. Whatever works I guess…Sometimes it hard tho when people ask me why I don’t drink as if it’s either weird of if you’re a recovering alcoholic or people that insist you need to have a drink when you’re out: come on, have a drink…That helps me not to drink all the more. I love sobriety 😊 Thanks for your comment!

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Alcohol and other drugs lower inhibitions so some people will become more creative, some will become aggressive, others sweeter. It all depends on the character of the person. Really, the real person is seen when they have consumed some alcohol. I think creative types tend to inner pain they have not learnt to express, so alcohol enables the boundaries to fall and creativity to flow. Look at Marlon Brando, Ernest Hemingway, and the ones you mention.

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Of course, it is an addiction. But not as hard to overcome as smoking or gambling. And yes, support is needed, from professionals but mainly from other alcoholics who have years of sobriety. It’s a fine balance of support and getting them to take responsibility for their lives.

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It’s tough for the alcoholic and for those around him. I was once asked by an alcoholic in very early recovery if I would go with him to an AA meeting. I said he should go without me. I based this decision on his preference for my company when I was not working but in the house where I was an assistant houseparent. I still question now if I made the right decision.

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The problems around alcoholism, drug addiction, and gambling addiction, is the effect on family members and friends. If a couple are both alcoholics, the effect on children is devastating. Alcoholics lie, and have a lot of dysfunction which is far too complicated to go into here. It’s a whole book.

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