Alcholism and Crazy Making
anonymous Asks ...
My friend is a heavy drinker. I guess you would call him an alcoholic but he owns his own business and he gets by OK. I would say he has been drinking for about 35 years. I would say he drinks about 10 beers a night on average. In the last year I have noticed a change in his personality. He has become more aggressive in his personality and he does not seem to be able to see any one’s elses point of view. It is not like he is ignoring it but it is like he can’t even understand that people have a different way of seeing things. He is also getting really rigid. Like if things don’t go according to schedule he gets really upset, even if it is things that don’t matter. Like if I call and say I am coming over at 4 and then I show up at 3:40 he is so upset for no real reason. He also does not seem to be able to listen very well anymore. He will ask you a question but he can’t take in what you are saying. It is hard to explain but he just can’t process what you are saying to him. Do these changes I am seeing come from drinking? If I am seeing these things now does that mean something significant is happening? Sometimes he talks about wanting to quit but he is so stubborn and because of the reasons I listed above it is impossible to get him to do something he does not want to do.
Florence Cameron Says ...
You are correct in your assumption of your friend as an alcoholic. 10 beers a night on avg for 35 years takes it's toll on the brain. The disease of Alcoholism is a brain disease. Your friend, you mentioned, talks about wanting to quit, however it has progressed way beyond anything he can control at this time. It is not possible for him to be "functional" as compared to someone who does not drink to the level as he does. Alcoholics Anonymous refers to the insanity of the disease. This is a very literal statement. It is not rational the ability and willingness to learn from mistakes is absent, the ability to recognize obvious patterns of behavior, and quite often, the application of common sense is not existent.
Although he may be functioning now in some quadrants of his life the disease of addiction dictates that he will lose these things in time and the three avenues that are inevitable to the prognosis of this disease is (jail, institution, and/or death).
Alcoholics think, act, believe, and feel based on distorted perceptions of themselves and the world around them. They live at the extremes of all or nothing. There is no moderation, no middle ground, no compromise, and no gray area in their worldview. To varying degrees, alcoholics live in denial of their destructiveness (self and others) and this further distorts what they are able to make sense of.
Recovery from alcoholism involves far more than sobriety. Recovery from alcoholism involves changing every part of a person’s life. The person who only stops drinking is what we refer to as a “dry drunk” meaning that they are every bit as unhealthy in their thinking even if they simply stopped drinking – only a small percentage of people can manage this long term. Behavior modification is necessary though as the "stinking thinking" persists.
The Big Book calls this disease a "cunning, baffling and powerful disease" and it takes no less than everything to abate it. Mostly it takes the willingness of the person afflicted. Without that it is fruitless. The people around the individual usually give up on them and distant themselves or disengage as it becomes too painful to watch these alcoholics self destruct, or continue to be abused by their lack of conscious awareness into their behavior.
Perhaps you can gather other friends or family and find an interventionist and help break through the denial of your friend. Have him read some articles on this web-site as they are very educational. Knowledge is power. In any event, arm yourself with the knowledge so you don't let him affect you in deleterious ways.
Jeannie Cameron, LMHC