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An Alcoholics view - Recovery and the Hospitals Role

Part 1

The following is from a submission I was asked to contribute to an Australian hospital's Drug and Alcohol policy review when I was around 25 years old, so please excuse the writing style!. I have split it into 3 parts as it is a fairly long article.


If an alcoholic makes the decision to call for help; he needs the help there and then. By forcing him to wait for suitable help the chance is great that he will change his mind. This is not because he wants to, but in his intoxicated or withdrawing state his grip on sanity is very fragile.

There are a percentage of us that do not accept the serious nature of the condition and all of its implications. There are also those among us that have a 'death wish' and find that alcohol is the 'easiest' way to achieve that goal. Then there are those that have become so selfish that they seriously do not give a damn about themselves or the feelings of others any more. They tend to believe that society or external influences made them this way and therefore society should pay. It is usually these groups of people that have multiple admissions to hospital within short spaces of time. 

It is very hard to tell which alcoholics are serious. I have met many recovered alcoholics that have had 20+ admissions to hospitals, detox units and psychiatric institutions before it really dawned on them there is a better way to live. I am sure that society had already written them off.

Alcoholics are generally sensitive (sometimes overly) and caring people. We do not like the way we are, and the continuous battle against the condition tires us and sometimes makes us feel suicidal. I once heard a recovering alcoholic say that it is like waking up every day with a terminal illness. It's never in remission but lies dormant, just waiting. While time and counselling decreases the urge to drink, it is still there 24hrs a day.

When a practising alcoholic is asked why he drinks, he can give you a thousand answers! 'The missus gives me a hard time", "my job stinks', "I am depressed' etc., etc., etc. The truth of the matter is that the alcoholic drinks because IT IS THE MOST NATURAL THING FOR HIM TO DO. The excuse that he gives may be the reason he started drinking all those years ago. The reasons are no longer valid but allow him to carry on his destructive path. Others should not encourage these excuses.

It must be remembered that an alcoholic/addict does not think like a "normal" person. Their addiction has forced them to become emotionally immature, paranoid, manipulative, deceptive and usually extremely self pitying. It is not enough for the alcoholic to stop drinking and do nothing else. Certain thought patterns have been deeply etched in the person's mind. In order to become sober, these ways of thinking and perceptions of the world must change too. This process can take months or years and sadly, many of us never achieve that.

Admission to hospital is the first step to recovery for many of us. It gives us a chance to withdraw whilst under medical supervision in a safe environment. Detoxing also gives us an opportunity to establish/reestablish links with AA, NA, D&A workers, counsellors and other agencies.

The reason that many practising alcoholics resent D&A workers is that they feel that unless these workers have the condition, they have no right in counselling about it. I do not agree with this view, but I can understand it.

End of part 1... 

Michael Bloch

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