“My father was an alcoholic, and I followed in his footsteps. At 12 years of age, I was already drinking. By the time I married, I was getting drunk every day. I became violent; often the police came to my family aid, my health deteriorated. Alcohol caused a gastric hemorrhage, which I barely survived. I then developed cirrhosis and anemia. I joined self-help groups in an attempt to quit, but to no avail. Felt as if I were caught in a spiderweb and could not break free”.-Victor
Again and again stories such as this one are told by people ensnared by alcohol. Like Victor, they feel trapped with no way out. Can alcohol-induced problems be overcome or even avoided? If so, how?
1. RECOGNIZING THE PROBLEM; the best way to reduce the total of alcohol-related problems in a society is to focus on curtailing the drinking of moderate rather than heavy drinkers. Does your drinking exceed the limits recommended by health authorities? Do you drink in situations requiring your full attention and quick reflexes? Are your drinking habits causing problems in your family or at work?
2. SEEKING HELP; detoxification programs, however, are no guarantee of success. Medication is only a temporary measure, not a cure. Allen, in France, undertook several detoxification treatments. “as soon as I left the hospital, I started drinking again because I associated with the same drinking partners. Basically, I did not have the proper motivation to stop” he says
3. FILLING THE VOID; a manual published by WHO with advice for those trying to change their drinking habit highlights the importance of purposeful activities in avoiding a relapse. One idea given as an example is engaging in religious activities.
4. COPING WITH A RELAPSE; if you are struggling to break free of alcohol, remember that relapses are likely to occur and that you should consider them as part of the road to recovery. Do not give up! Analyze what led to the relapse, and use that as knowledge to prevent future slips. Identify specific situations that arouse in you the desire to drink. Could it be boredom, depression, loneliness, arguments, stress, or events or places where others drink? Then avoid them.
If your drinking habit poses a threat to your well-being, do not hesitate to make the necessary changes. It can be for your own good and for the good of those who love you. A person can make changes whether he is at risk of an accident through misuse of alcohol, is suffering problems because of abusing alcohol, or is alcohol dependent.