Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Casualties of Alcoholism

The Casualties of Alcoholism
Al Ritter 

To the uninitiated meeting an alcoholic for the first time, you may be taken in by the outgoing fun nature, and you may even be in awe of their capacity to consume liquor with no visible outside effects. As time goes on and love enters into the picture the rationalizations begin. You figure if you are buying the alcohol you can regulate how much they drink, when in fact all you are doing is enabling the behavior. Because you are around them more, you are seeing more drunken episodes, but you tell yourself “because of our growing love, we can get through this.”
Through the ensuing years things don’t improve, you lovingly ask the alcoholic to enter into rehab programs or AA, and they agree. The program is over and they seem better, in fact they go back to the fully functioning life they had before. But as time creeps on they go back to “just one glass of wine before dinner.” They try to calm your fears telling you that they have cut way back and not to be concerned. A month goes by and now the alcoholic is up to 3 glasses of wine before and after dinner. Soon after, the drunkenness returns and the alcoholic is right back to the state they were before the rehab. Now abusive words are being spoken during the blackout episodes that the alcoholic doesn’t remember the next day but the damage has already been done. The loved ones are suffering but the alcoholic still promises that they will cut back the drinking. You stop buying the alcohol and tell them they can no longer drink around you. They rationalize their behavior by telling you that everyone is human and they all make mistakes and even question you by saying “are you perfect?”
The loved ones start to question themselves asking “am I asking too much of this relationship?” “Am I really this unflawed myself?” The relationship continues and within a few years you ask them to seek professional help again and they agree this time on an inpatient program. They progress fairly well and are released to an outpatient continuation program. The loved ones cautiously go about life again with the alcoholic once again. But they also notice that the word sobriety or sobriety date never creep into a conversation. Because of the alcoholic’s past and their secretive nature you become leery of broken promises. When things change and you view the person you love return to drinking the cycle begins again.
Once again you ask they seek help and they agree this time, but now you have the uneasy feeling they are only agreeing to appease you. Once again, no talk about sobriety or sobriety date as so many recovered alcoholics proudly know as well as their own birth date. The signs of alcoholism clearly show in their face and their health but mirrors either don’t work for alcoholics or the denial is so strong they can’t see it themselves.
They make up reasons that they don’t stop drinking…….”I can stop whenever I want”……”I can cut back”…..”you have problems too, and when you seek help for your problem I will stop drinking.” The excuses never stop and the loved ones begin to actually believe the root cause of the drinking is caused by their problems…..and they believe that for a while, but then they remember the ability of the alcoholic to consume massive quantities of liquor when they first met them, and that idea and the rationale falls apart.
Eventually everyone around an alcoholic becomes a casualty; love alone is not enough of a reason for the alcoholic to quit. The alcoholic is only looking for a reason TO drink, but never looking for a reason to quit. The trust has been broken, when is enough enough?