ARE YOU OR IS YOUR LOVED ONE AN ALCOHOLIC?
Author: Suzanne Wirth
Most people think of alcoholism as something that happens to other people, people that they do not know such as those they see on the movies or on TV. They also think that in order to be an alcoholic one has to get up each morning and have an alcoholic drink and then proceed to drink all throughout the day. Neither of these ideas is completely true but both of them have some truth in them. Alcoholism is a disease which if left untreated can kill you. In AA they say that people who drink alcohol once started drinking because they had a problem and then ended up with the drinking itself being the problem. The working definition of whether or not you are an alcoholic is whether or not you have lost control and drinking is no longer a choice. Also over the years as I’ve worked with clients I have noticed that those who have blood sugar issues like diabetes or hypoglycemia often drink something sugary like wine or a cocktail instead of eating the meal that their body requires. The disturbance in proper nutrition can lead to what is often referred to as alcohol dependency or problem drinking. Dependency means that the person has established a pattern of behavior that they reinforce day after day by continuing to drink each and every day, say at three o’clock for example. The phrase, ”its five o’clock somewhere”, relates to this pattern. Alcoholism is drinking to the point where any part of your life is in trouble. This could be your job, your health, your marriage or even your finances. People who are alcoholic are out of control, and need our help and understanding. They also need a counselor to help them with the fallout and a supportive group like AA. Women tend to be closet drinkers. It is much more acceptable in our society for a man to drink than it is for a woman, so she keeps it hidden. Hidden from others and sometimes even hidden from herself. Female clients over the years reluctantly admit that part of their problem is the alcohol that they are consuming while the men in the practice seem to admit their usage with less embarrassment. Our society tends to more readily accept a man’s drinking than a woman’s drinking. Years ago it was even part of slapstick humor when the male comedian portrayed a drunk but never a female. Is this because our society looks down on a female drinking? Even in old comic relief skits it was inappropriate for a woman to act intoxicated. The important issue is how we can help those who need help. To help is to get involved. Start by talking about what you see. Open your mouth and tell them what you see.
A woman’s ability to drink is different than a man’s. Men can handle more alcohol than a woman because they have a greater body mass. Normally men handle twice as much alcohol actually; this is usually because a woman weighs less than a man. Women also have less water in their bodies than men. If you had two people one man and one woman who had the same amount of alcohol and weighed the same amount the alcohol would end up affecting the woman to a greater degree. So how do we start to solve this problem? Start with a complete physical for you or your loved one and find out if there has been any organ damage from the drinking. After you complete that go together to an open meeting at AA and listen, really LISTEN, to what the people there are talking about. If you need more help call a counselor and get an appointment as soon as possible. Remember we are here to help. If you have a loved one who has a problem with alcohol and they have refused to get help, you need to get help for yourself by going to an Al-Anon meeting or come in to counseling by yourself. Once again we are here to help please let us.