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An Alcoholics view - Recovery and the Hospitals Role
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.
The word that the alcoholic/addict hate most is "NO"; but it is a word we need to hear often during our recovery. It should also be pointed out to the person when they are being manipulative or self pitying as this behaviour is so ingrained in us that we no longer recognise it. Remember that we are master con artists. This is another situation where contact with a recovered alcoholic is important. The recovered alcoholic remembers all the tricks that he played when he was practising and can recognise this behaviour very quickly in someone else.
During the alcoholic's stay in hospital; it is beneficial that they have limited access to Television, Radio and Literature (Unless it is D&A related). Business and family dealings should also be kept to a minimum. These things only serve to distract the person from coming to terms with their condition. If they wish to read, they should be given relevant material. Every bit of education helps!!! Woden Valley uses this method, and while it seemed strange at first, I can now see the value of it.
If the person is well enough, they should be encouraged to attend an AA meeting while an in?patient. There are plenty of AA members who are only too happy to pick them up and drop them back at the hospital. This will help the alcoholic establish a support network for when he is discharged from hospital.
The person should also be encouraged to follow up hospital treatment with a rehab program (especially if it is their first detox). These programs will fully educate the person about their condition and help them to learn networking skills that are imperative to the recovering alcoholics' survival in mainstream society. Once the alcoholic has full knowledge of the physical, emotional, mental, financial and social implications of their practices; it will help them to think twice before picking up another drink or drug. That's the theory anyway!
Family support is very important but may also be detrimental to the alcoholics recovery. Some family members may be "propping him up all the way to the grave'. I remember my defacto initially refusing to accept that I was alcoholic (even after well over a year of putting up with my rapidly deteriorating behaviour). They may offer excuses for the alcoholic, which should not be encouraged.
Alcoholism affects everyone that comes into contact with it. The family members should be encouraged to seek counselling as well.
Sadly, the prognosis for the recovering alcoholic/addict is not good. Over two thirds of us that have made it as far as detox will eventually die from our addiction. A further percentage will continue drinking and end our days in a psychiatric institution or on the streets with ARBD (Alcohol Related Brain Damage). Some of the most intelligent and creative people in Australia now call park benches home. Alcoholism does not discriminate.
It is estimated that over 1.5 million Australians have alcohol "problems'. It is also estimated that 86% of people in our gaols are there for offences committed while either under the influence or withdrawing from drugs and or alcohol.
The first 12 months of recovery is a critical time for the alcoholic. It is during this period that we are most likely to bust. It should be made clear to the person that the condition is progressive, meaning that even after a long period of abstinence, if they drink/use again, they will pick up from where they left off.
I also feel that it is about time that the medical profession and society in general accepted alcoholism/addiction as a disease. It displays physical and emotional symptoms. It is progressive, incurable and fatal but treatable.
Society shunning us only leads us to fear seeking help or talking about it. Alcoholism has been a part of our society for millennia; isn't it about time we took some serious steps to addressing the problem??? Education, not ostracization.
Thank you for reading this - Michael 1995
"I hope for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference"
End of article...
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