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Thursday, December 22, 2011

For My Future Reference

Has anyone out there ever known a person whose life has not been touched in some way by alcoholism or substance abuse?

To me, the near universality of this human experience is notable. Family members, friends, work colleagues & neighbors of mine have struggled. As often as not, I've been uncertain of the approach to take with these people in my life. Talk about what I've observed? Avoid the person and issue? Offer help? What kind of help? A support group? A counselor or therapist? Stage an intervention? Though I've studied this a bit and even briefly taught courses on alcoholism & substance abuse, having someone in your life is altogether different than teaching about some vague "others". Even knowing that an addict needs to hit their own bottom before they're ready to climb out feels like a platitude when it is someone I care about.  

In my experience, even though most of us have had to deal with this issue, few of us agree what action to take; often we strongly disagree. Some of us believe alcoholism is a disease; some do not. Some of us believe stopping is a matter of will for the alcoholic or addict; some of us believe stopping is about more than will. But these disagreements or discussions of different beliefs are of no use to the person who is struggling. So, how best can I be of use? Because I don't need it right this moment, this is a good time to ask for your help.


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