The following was written by Mark Meyer, Recovery Coach at PRC Recovery Center, Sabie.
The recent debates and controversy of smoking, sugar products and most important the sale of alcohol during the COVID-19 lockdown level 3 have led to interesting views and opinions about the topic of alcohol.
In all spheres of our society, the effect alcohol has on our lives has for many been drastic and detrimental, however we need to differentiate between what is considered alcoholic versus the average temperate drinker who can have and enjoy a few drinks without causing harm to themselves and/or their loved ones.
Alcohol has been a recurring problem seen over and over again in history with some of the first movements to limit, control and ban the sale of alcohol known as the temperance movement, a crusade consisting of over 32,000 women who stormed into saloons and liquor stores to disrupt business and stop the sales of alcohol during late 1874.
The current readdress and unconstitutional ruling of lockdown proceedings are no more than what had followed the temperance movement for years through the prohibition reform which argued the breach of constitutional rights and its ineffectiveness due to the prevalence of bootlegging (the illegal business of smuggling).
These arguments have always been strongly supported by women as the “victims” of alcoholism, in that alcohol was morally corrupting and hurting families economically when men would drink their family’s money away. These arguments have since drastically equivalated where the gap between men and women with drinking problems had shrunk with women who abuse alcohol and/or have become alcohol dependent doubling in the past few decades.
Considering the advancements in the medical community over the years there surely cannot be any denying that alcoholism is a disease and as defined by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition) an Alcohol Use Disorder is a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress in the four categories of behavior related to substance use:
- Impaired control,
- Social impairment,
- Risky use, and
- Pharmacological indicators (tolerance and withdrawal).
Needless this problem continues to persist and will continue to persist for years to come to the problem of alcohol is not those who can have and enjoy a drink but the problem comes when drinking turns into alcoholism.
Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that while they admit it is injurious, the alcoholic cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false and their alcoholic life seems to be the only normal one.
This medical assessment of alcoholism had always been an interesting medical estimate in seeking a plan of recovery where physicians simply classified alcoholics as hopeless. That those who suffer from alcoholic torture is both bodily as abnormal as their minds because how else could the alcoholic be told that they cannot control their drinking, that they were in full flight from reality or were outright mental defectives.
It’s through this medical assessment that physicians started exploring the theory of alcoholism as an allergy and this explained to many alcoholics that this theory made good sense where hopelessness couldn’t be defined as anything else than an insufferable state of mind and body with many wanting to stop in the reality that they cannot stop without help and support.
The Doctor’s Opinion in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous emphasizes this theory where the craving for alcohol is limited to the alcoholic, that the alcoholic’s body is physically different where it processes alcohol at one-third to one-tenth the rate of normal drinkers and that produces the craving for more alcohol but this is only the body explanation and any definition of alcoholism which leaves out the mental state of an alcoholic is incomplete.
It expresses how these allergic-types can never use alcohol in any form at all but once having formed this habit and finding they cannot break it, they lose their self-confidence, their problems pile up and become astonishingly difficult to solve as the alcoholic again wants to experience the sense of ease and comfort that comes from taking the first drink as this mental state of the alcoholic tells him that it’s okay to have just one drink but for the alcoholic one drink leads to a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again and this insanity is repeated over and over again and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of recovery.
This is where Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 and its foundation of the 12 steps program of recovery has been instrumental to the recovery of millions and the formation of many other fellowships who on their foundation offer a solution to alcoholism, addiction and other compulsive and behavioral disorders.
PRC Recovery Center in Sabie has combined both best-practice clinical alcohol treatment with proven 12-step recovery models into a program that offers alcoholics and families of alcoholics hope that recovery is possible.
If you or a loved one have or are currently experiencing any of the following symptoms consider seeking help.
In the past year, have you:
- More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
- Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
- Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
- Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
- Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
- Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
- Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, to drink?
- More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
- Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
- Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
- Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?
The presence of at least 2 of these symptoms indicates Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). The severity of the AUD is defined as:
- Mild: The presence of 2 to 3 symptoms
- Moderate: The presence of 4 to 5 symptoms
- Severe: The presence of 6 or more symptoms
Contact the following organisations if you or a loved one need help:
- PRC Recovery Centre, 081 246 7452, www.prcrecovery.co.za
- Alcoholics Anonymous, 0861 435 722, www.aasouthafrica.org.za
- Al-Anon Family Groups, 0861 252 666, www.alanon.org.za