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"Effects of Alcohol, The Physical Disease of Alcoholism"
by Toby Rice Drews
by Toby Rice Drews
I think that one of the most important things that families of alcoholics need to do for recovery is to learn about the physical disease of alcoholism, and how alcohol affects the brain/central-nervous system --- and translates into horrible thoughts/actions by the alcoholic.
Learning this process is one of the quickest ways to internalize the truth about alcoholism ---- and once we internalize the truth about this disease, we can so much better understand WHY 'they act like they do'. And it will therefore lessen the emotional pain inflicted on us, despite what the alcoholic does ----- because so much of that emotional pain is based on our thinking that "they don't love us if they act that way". We learn to really see that "it's not personal".
Now, that does NOT mean at all that we don't hurt from their behavior! It means that we get much LESS pulled-down emotionally by all the junk that comes out of their mouths ---- much less, because we begin to really know that it's coming from a drugged-out crazy place that has nothing to do with us. And then, we can make our plans about what we want to do with our lives, because all our energy isn't being wasted all the time, wondering "why they act like that" ----- because we will know.
And -- very important -- it does NOT "let them off the hook" for responsibility for their actions..... in fact, if they do feel that anything they did is no big deal "because they have a disease", then they won't fully recover, because recovery has 12 steps and two of them are about making amends for their behavior.... and without true amends, recovery can be tentative.
Here are some ways to begin to get knowledge of how this very physical disease affects the body/brain/central-nervous system (and therefore, directly determines how alcoholics behave toward their families):
a.) Read James Milam's book, "Under the Influence".... it is all about the disease process. This wonderful book has also sent many drinking alcoholics directly to A.A.
b.) go to the library and spend a part of a day there, scanning/reading all the medical books available there on alcoholism. There's something about seeing a half-dozen or more books filled with information about this disease---- in actual medical books--- that helps us to understand that this really is a disease.
c.) read "Getting Them Sober, volume 3" --- I wrote half this book about the 350 secondary diseases/disorders to alcoholism, because people don't usually know that alcoholism's deadliness usually comes from organ and system shutdown, and I think it is important for all of us to know the many ways this can happen. Plus there are several introductions to that part of the book, dealing with various insidious forms of denial, and how to spot them and get rid of them.
d.) on this www.GettingThemSober.com website, print out two of the articles ---- "what happens if alcoholics stop going to A.A." ------ and "how to know if the alcoholic is serious about sobriety". These two articles are on this website because I have been asked about them more than any others.
Families ask how they will know if "he is serious" about recovery, this time. And newly-sober alcoholics ask me "when they can stop going to A.A." It is so important, for families' peace of mind, to understand that alcoholics are going to say they are going to get help when they are not going to, because the alcohol working on the brain is making them do that.
The one article will help you differentiate between when they mean it and when they don't. And the other article will help you understand that this physical disease is so insidious and works on the brain, even after recovery begins..... and keeps telling alcoholics to leave your help, to leave A.A. And what often happens if you do. This article will help you to spot the signs of unconsciously getting ready to leave A.A. and hopefully help you to make a sane decision to stay there.
Please feel free to print these articles out and make as many copies as you want ----- for your friends in recovery, for your therapists, ministers, classmates, students, and colleagues. (And of course, print out anything else on this website, too, and make as many copies as you like.) ------ best to all in total recovery, Toby
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