What is an addict? What is an alcoholic? Many of us have preconceived ideas of what an addict or alcoholic is. It may be that your idea of an addict is someone slumped in an alleyway, unwashed, homeless and alone, with a needle hanging out of their arm. Or maybe your idea of an alcoholic is someone who drinks first thing in the morning, who only ever drinks spirits, who has no job, no family and no life. Whilst this is true of some addicts and alcoholics, my experience is that there is no definitive picture that can be relied upon.
Alcoholism and addiction are not a direct result of environment and upbringing, nor are they a result of one’s own individual experiences of life. These factors can attribute and even make an alcoholic or addict’s condition worsen or progress as a quicker rate, but they do not cause it.
There are two key factors that are common in addiction and alcoholism, and they have nothing to do with race, back ground, financial standing or upbringing. The first is the inability to control the amount consumed once a drink or drug has entered the individuals system. Quite simply, this means that one is never enough. The individual may have the intent of only having one or two drinks and leaving it at that. Or they may think they will make a concerted effort to control and stop their drug use after one line, hit, fix or pill. The reality is, that if they are an alcoholic or addict, they are bodily different from others. That means that once the substance or alcohol is in their system, they react differently, in that there is a physical craving triggered for more, more, more and yet even more! This craving cannot be controlled and all rational thought and reason goes completely out of the window, as the alcoholic or addict justifies the craving in their mind and carries on, usually to oblivion. If you are reading this and can identify with this uncontrollable craving for more once you’ve started, you may be thinking, that means I have to stop completely? The reality is, if you are unable to control your drink or drug use once you have started, it is very, very unlikely that you will ever regain that control, although many do try for years and years to. Some will even pursue it to an early grave, or to the cost of everything and everyone that they hold dear to them. Why? Why do addicts and alcoholics do this? When it is plain to everyone around them that they cannot control it, why do they pursue this fantasy that they will be able to regain control? This delusion is due to the second factor that is present in all that suffer from addiction and alcoholism and sets them apart from someone who is a heavy drinker or user. A heavy drinker or user will be able to stop or moderate given a good reason too, such as ill health or damaged finances and relationships. But an alcoholic or an addict will not, they will fall pray time and time again to the delusional and obsessive belief, that one day they will regain control and be able to drink or use socially like they did perhaps when they first started out experimenting. So whilst it is a reasonable suggestion, for them to abstain completely, their delusional thinking will not allow for this, thus triggering the physical craving time and time again. The patterns of an alcoholic or addicts attempts at using or drinking safely are predictable, heart breaking and repetitive. Unless a complete change in the individuals thinking is brought about, there is very little chance of their recovery. With this explanation in mind, it is easy to see how alcoholism and addiction can affect anyone. The delusional thinking is usually progressive, as is the physical craving. Without treatment it only ever gets worse over time. This may open your mind up to what an alcoholic and addict really is, it could be the doctor, who only drinks after surgery, but whilst with patients is secretly obsessing how he can have a few drinks to unwind after work, only to find he then drinks excessively until the early hours of the morning½.again. Or it could be the mother that stays sober until midday, then has a little wine whilst making lunch, only to find she then carries on until bed time, but still manages to function on a basic level and provide for her children, or it could be the banker who joins his colleagues on a Friday night for a few drinks and a few lines of Cocaine, then finds he never makes it home and is still drinking and drugging when he should be joining his family for Sunday lunch as promised,,,,
Alcoholism and addiction can be successfully treated with the right therapy at any given stage; preconceived ideas of what an alcoholic or addict is can delay the individual from seeking treatment earlier, thus saving themselves and loved ones from a lot of heartache. If you identify with the physical craving and mental obsession/delusion to drink and use safely, isn’t it wise to seek help sooner rather than later?