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Monday, July 6, 2015

For My Future Reference

Have any of you 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. In my own life, I've had family members, friends, work colleagues & neighbors who have struggled. Often as not, I've been uncertain of an approach to take with these people. Speak to them of what I've observed? Avoid the person and issue? Offer help? What kind of help? A support group? A counselor or therapist? An intervention? Though I've studied the subject 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's someone important to me.

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 disagreements or discussions of different beliefs are of no use to the person 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.


  1. Pat, I've a very good friend who also happens to be an alcoholic. He has 18 years of sobriety!!! I first met him about 25 years ago, and just before he hit bottom, we had to go our separate ways. This remains one of the most painful times of my life as I read and studied only to find out I could not help him with his struggle. I learned of his sobriety about a year and a half ago, wondering all those years if he was even still alive. And now our friendship is revived, truly picking up where it had left off. The alcoholism is still there...always will be. It is as much a part of him as his circulation and nervous systems.

    Since he has only his experience on which to draw, he now helps others attempt to defeat the disease by sharing himself. He knows that it needs to be the choice of the alcoholic. When he first described what had to happen to him, I spent days imagining how horrible it must have been for him: "smashing of ego, complete defeat of self, realizing I had no control, etc..." and when I said to him that it was painful for me to imagine, his answer was, "It was the best thing that ever happened to me."
    In order to attempt to understand how to be a better friend to him, I read the AA blue book, their Bible of sorts. This has helped me to see that the choices of an alcoholic can not be made by anyone but the person in need.
    I could go on and on...though I will never pretend to fully understand! But I have a wonderful reference for you, my very good friend, if you ever need!

    1. d; As you probably deduced from my post, I too have had some painful experiences watching people struggle. My wife and I have several friends who have found their way back via AA so I'm familiar with the "blue book" although I've never read it cover-to-cover. Thanks for the suggestion.