Alcoholism

Here is a photo entitled “one year sober.” Says it all.

Here is a book on alcoholism by James Graham: Vessels of Rage, Engines of Power: The Secret History of Alcoholism.

I recommend this book for just about anyone because alcoholism affects just about everyone. There is only a small chance that your life has not been significantly impacted by an alcoholic—be it a relative, spouse, friend, teacher, boss, colleague, etc.

In his book, Graham focuses on alcoholic behavior rather than how much the person is drinking or how to stop drinking. This focus provides a needed emphasis on the harm alcoholics do to others.

I am not now and never have been an alcoholic but have relatives and friends who are. A consistent theme with this disease is the non-alcoholics close to alcoholics do not understand what is happening.

They miss hundreds of clues because they do not understand how the disease starts and progresses and what its signs are. Graham’s book does a good job of correcting this.

Most people can identify end-stage alcoholics because they have stopped concealing their drinking and because they look the part. What is needed is being able to identify the early and middle stages of this disease, the symptoms of which include egomania, malice, false accusations, denial, lying, superficial charm, emotional abuse, and sometimes violence.

The wisdom of the Buddha shows in his making the fifth of the five precepts (guidelines for lay Buddhists) “no irresponsible use of alcohol.”

I am fine with calling alcoholism a disease because it harms as surely as a virus and because there is a genetic component to it. Early and middle stage alcoholics generally can drink great quantities of alcohol and not appear drunk. And generally they do not suffer hangovers.

I have two alcoholic friends who say booze affects them like coffee and one who claims he likes hangovers “because you’re still drunk!”

Having only recently woken up to the seriousness and commonness of alcoholism (maybe 7% of US adults, maybe more), I am very sympathetic to people who simply don’t get it.

My experiences with four near-relatives and several friends, whose behaviors included two attempted suicides and numerous bouts of abuse and delirium, at last got me to see how destructive alcoholism is.

I am no moralist and have many flaws of my own and hate sounding preachy. But alcoholism is a real danger to the drinker and to others and the sooner you figure it out, the better. They’re all around you.

If you are an alcoholic, you have to stop drinking completely and never touch that shit again as long as you live.

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