Askanypersonwithanaddictionproblemwhetheritbedrugsoralcohol,andthey’lltellyouthatalcoholisthehardestformofaddictiontodealwith.ButyouareNOTpowerless,itjust takessupportandawillingnesstosucceed.Ithasnothingtodowithreligion,it’saboutwillpoweranddetermination.Havingsaidthat,notallpeoplewhohaveanalcoholproblem,havean addiction issue too.There are several support groups out there, and some people I know have been put off by the “Alcoholics Anonymous” approach. But, having said that I fully understand that if a personfinds this approach helpful, then that can only be a good thing, as a lot of people have found a life of total alcohol sobriety using this method of recovery. If on the other hand, you are put off by this spiritualist approach, don’t give up, there are other options available to you. Another thing I want to try and get across is the definition of two widely used words these days called, “Binge Drinking”, and an alcohol “Bender”. Sometimes the term "binge drinking" is confused with "bender". Some peoplebelieve that warnings against binge drinking are warning against going on multiple day bout of intoxication, but that is notwhat binge drinking is all about. Binge drinking is drinking five or more drinks in any one drinking sessionfor both men, and women alike, It’s the Friday night culturemindset thing, that takes place in nearly every town and city in the country, “I’m going out tonight and I’m going to get totally off my face”, or “I’m getting completely bladdered tonight”. Harmful drinking can occur long before it reaches the level of a bender. While going on a bender might be considered self-destructive behaviour, simply drinking five beers or a bottle of wine in one day is considered hazardous drinking.An alcohol bender is a multiple-day drinking spree during which the person does not eat and gets very little sleep. If you're ona bender, you might pass out for a short time, wake up and start drinking again. A bender does not refer to one evening of intoxication. It refers to a drinking spree that is extended over at least two or more days.Sadlyforyears,we’vealwayslaughedatpeopleandalcoholabuse.Wejustseemtolaughitoff.Alcoholabuseisnolaughingmatterandcanhaveseriousandoftenfatalconsequences. VisitanyA&EhospitaldepartmentonaFridayorSaturdaynightandseetheharmpeopledotothemselves,andothers.(Idobelievethetrainsequenceinthisvideotobefake,butit does illustrate the point pretty well)
ArLD - Victims of Circumstance
For many years I have been offering help, advice and support to people over on a highly respected “HealthUnlocked” website: https://healthunlocked.com/ Over time, it has brought home to me the many reasons why a person goes on to develop an alcohol-related medical condition in the first place. It is reckoned, that some 84% of people who go on to develop a serious liver condition drink alcohol because they choose to. The remaining 16% are those who now have an alcohol addiction, they are now drinking because they have to. So, Alcohol abuse falls into two categories. Those who have an alcohol problem, and those who have an alcohol addiction. Sadly many local alcohol support services don’t differentiate between the two categories. They find it easier to just label everyone the same and call them “Alcoholics”. This just adds to stigmatise and alienate people. For many, this title becomes an invisible badge of shame.Where to StartTo start, I often like to use, what I refer to as the “Cause and Effect” analogy. For many people who go on to develop a drinking problem, The reason behind their need to drink can become lost over time. Most often or not, there is a deep-rooted past issue in their life that makes them want to feel better about themselves. To help blank out a traumatic experience, or to help someone gain confidence from within, even to try and help deal with feelings of guilt, despair, and loneliness.I often refer to the following two cases as examples. These are both two true stories of people who posted up asking for help on a well respected, online liver support group site. Obviously, I’ll protect the person's anonymity.The first case involves a lady who was in her late 30’s, who now has a cirrhotic liver through ArLD. It took a few weeks of exchanging messages to gain this lady's trust. She finally told me that some 11 years previous, she had gone out on a Friday night with some friends and had been raped on the way home. For 11 years this lady hadn’t ever told anyone, not even her GP or other members of her family. She had blamed herself and would seek solace in alcohol. Alcohol became her coping mechanism to help her blank out the traumatic event and also to help her cope with the guilt.Had this poor lady gotten the help she needed at the time, she’d most likely have a perfectly healthy liver today.The second case refers to a young lady in her early 20s who, once again used alcohol as a form of self-medication as a coping mechanism. She too now has liver cirrhosis.Her story goes back to when she was just 14 years old. She was witnessing her father and mother having a heated row. She remembers crying and wanting to try and stop them but was too scared. She witnessed her father murder her mother. That evening, she became robbed of the love and affection of not only her mother but also later that of her father who was arrested and given a life sentence for his wife’s murder. This young lady ended up in the care system, where she spent the rest of her teens and early 20s blaming herself for not having the courage to stand up and protect her mother. For her, alcohol abuse became a daily need to help blank out the traumatic experience.“Cause and Effect”Both of these ladies experienced a traumatic event, none of which were of their own making. These ladies became victims of other people's actions, all through no fault of their own. Many people have difficulty mentally processing the cruel actions of others. This then leads the victim to seek their own form of self-medication to make them feel better and emotionally stronger. In both these examples, the original actions of others become the “Cause”. The use of alcohol as a form of self-medication becomes the “Effect”. If a person could have been given emotional help and support at the time, i.e. treating the “cause”, then the “effect” would have become redundant, and not needed.Behind every person who develops a problem with alcohol, there is a story waiting to be told. That man, drunk on a park bench, we just see a broken person and look upon them with disgust and disdain. What we don’t see is a man who has completed two tours in Afghanistan and seen his best friend blown to bits.For a while now, I have been involved with some liver medical students. Here I talk about my liver journey and of my liver transplant experience, all from a personal perspective. I always conclude with the following advice. “Always try and treat the patient and not just treat the physical condition”. Once again, the “Effect” is the liver damage and the “Cause” is the alcohol. The need to look beyond the cause is so important.Many young people from disadvantaged families tend to suffer the most. Those childhood experiences shape the way they’ll become in adulthood. Those early life skills and teachings that are passed down from previous generations are so important in shaping the person of the future.Those young children who end up in the care system all through no fault of your own, can already become damaged and mentally scarred. They can feel unloved, rejected and unwanted. They may feel a failure they can lack ambition and have little sense of purpose or direction.Some of these young people may be fostered, and find love and support from an adopted family, while others may be unsuitable and remain within the care home environment. When the latter reaches the age of adulthood, they are on their own. Many lack any basic life skills. They may feel lost and have no ambition or drive. Many just want to blank out the day and lock themselves away inside an invisible protective bubble away from the outside world.Alcohol and drug abuse becomes a daily occurrence. The only priority in their life is to find that next fix, so they can continue to blank out the loveless world again. Where I happen to live in North Staffordshire, there are presently 1100 children within the care system. Some of these will end up as rough sleepers on the local streets and only get to know the seedie drug underworld. They too are all victims.For the sum of just £2, an escape from the world of reality can be found. “Monkey Dust” is the new drug of choice for youngsters and adults alike. Monkey Dust, also known as MDPV (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone), is a synthetic cathinone, a class of drug known as "bath salts." Initially developed as a research chemical, it has gained notoriety for its stimulating and hallucinogenic effects. Monkey Dust comes in the form of white or off-white powder, which can be snorted, swallowed, or injected. Its effects are often likened to those of amphetamines, such as increased alertness, elevated mood, and a surge in energy.
Understanding the Alcohol Mindset
The Alcohol Mindset - continued
One of the problems with the alcohol mindset is the way a person will convince themselves that all is well.If a person were to end up in hospital with a serious alcohol-related liver condition due to alcohol abuse. That “Wake-Up” call is so important. But sadly this opportunity can often be missed, or overlooked. The alcohol mindset being what it is, doesn't need much convincing that it’s alright to return to their old ways and begin to drink again.“They’ve discharged me, so I must be better”. “I don’t feel any pain, so my liver must be working just fine again”.The hospital’s Alcohol Liaison Team need to ensure that the patient is fully aware of the severity of their condition. A recovery action plan needs to be in place before they are discharged, and a committed willingness to change their lifestyle needs to be sold and agreed upon.When I was drinking (many years ago), I recall on one occasion telling myself, “This is who you are, this is what you do. Drinking alcohol is part of your life, why try and fight, this is who you are?”. Many people at this point can’t imagine a world without alcohol. For them, alcohol has become so ingrained into their life, that they imagine a world without it.This mindset needs to be changed, by education and induce a willingness to want to live and embrace change. Change can be a good thing, so don’t be frightened of it. “This is what’s broken, what are we going to do to make it right again?”