My Name is… and I’m an Alcoholic
“I had my first drink when I was about five years old…from then on, alcohol was my constant companion, friend, and spiritual advisor…25 years later…I laid in the middle of my living room with a loaded rifle in my mouth wanting to end it all” (Alfred). Alcoholism is a chronic disease in which a person may become dependent on alcohol, to the extent where it affects your life. Alcoholics have an uncontrollable need for alcohol. Their lives revolve around drinking, which dominates the way that they think, feel, and act (Alcohol Use and Abuse). It breaks up families, it ends jobs, and it shortens lives. “Alcoholism,” originated in 1849 by a “Swedish physician, Magnus Huss,” can be a disease that can take over your life, but with time and commitment can be overcome (Getting the Facts).
“Alcohol produces both psychological and physical dependence… [it] interferes with the ability to socialize and to work and leads to many other destructive behaviors” (The Merck Manual of Medical Information 442). An alcoholic is someone who is dependent on alcohol and has the disorder of alcoholism. Alcoholics tend to act differently when drunk and at times may not be able to “manage their behavior” (The Merck Manual of Medical Information 442). Consequences that occur during this time are what lead
to the breakup of relationships, and the endings of short lives. “Alcoholism is the third leading cause of death nationwide; it would be number one if traffic accidents and death certificate diagnoses related to alcohol were included in the statistics” (Alcohol Use and Abuse). This fact demonstrates the affect of alcohol has on so many lives. “Alcoholism reduces the life expectancy of alcoholics by 10 to 12 years” (Alcohol Use and Abuse); although these facts might be true, some people may not be able to overcome their addiction.
Alcoholism may be passed down by genetics, or may influenced by culture, and background. “People with a family history of alcoholism are more likely than other people to become alcoholics themselves (Alcohol Use and Abuse). Sons of alcoholic fathers have a one in four chance of becoming an alcoholic” (Alcohol Use and Abuse). “Alcoholism is more likely developed in the biological children of alcoholics, than in adopted children which suggest that alcoholism involves a genetic or biochemical defect” (The Merck Manual of Medical Information 443). As well as genetics and biochemical defects, culture has an impact on many people. An example may be Irish descendents. In Ireland, many on a daily basis go to the local pub; share the ways of their day as part of the neighborhood culture. Abuse of alcohol eventually leads to harmful malfunctions in the body.
Often times the extended abuse of alcohol lead to the disorders in many parts of the body. “Prolonged use of excessive amounts of alcohol damages many organs of the badly, particularly the liver, brain, and heart”
(The Merck Manual of Medical Information 443). Having the disease of alcoholism is also known to have “pathologic organ changes” in a long term problem (Getting the Facts). Determined by the blood level of alcohol in a person, it may have immediate affects on the brain. Often a person who “suddenly” stops drinking is likely to get the “Alcohol with drawl Syndrome” (The Merck Manual of Medical Information 443). This is often known as a “hangover,” in which a person may get symptoms of, “nausea, sweating, weakness, and tremor” (The Merck Manual of Information 444). People are easily attracted to the temporary affects of alcohol and can become addicted easily. But, there is a recovery process in which a person can get help for their addictions, before their addiction has a life ending affect.
The treatment process for an alcoholic is often long and very difficult but in the end can be very rewarding. “Alcoholics who develop withdrawal systems generally treat themselves by drinking” (The Merck Manual of Information 445). The recovery process is so hard because alcoholics have looked their whole lives for alcohol when times get hard. When this happens it is often noted that this is a time to seek medical help. Acknowledging that help is needed and to want it, is the first step in the recovery process (Getting the Facts). Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) “is a place
where the recovering alcoholic can socialize away from the tavern with non-drinking friends who are always available for support when the urge to start drinking again becomes strong” (The Merck Manual of Information 445). AA is an organizations specializing in the recovery for alcoholics. Many people have benefited through this organization where friends are made and life changes occur.
“I went into sober living… I was introduced to recovery and found a new family. Today turning my life and my will over to GOD on a daily basis and trying not to take that will back, has made my life happier easier to live and much easier to control” (Alfred). As much as the affects of alcohol have on a family or a person’s life, the affects of recovery of a person can change a life. Stories of recovering alcoholics have played a toll of many people and not to mention the affect they might have on an alcoholic seeking the need for recovery.
1999: 1-12. Rpt. in Alcoholism
Reproduced in Student Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale
Group. December, 2000. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/SRC/
3. 3. Alfred. “Al’s Story.” Online. Available:
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