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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Where do we fit in?

I've been through alot myself... And the most comforting thought today is... Im not the only one. It's true.. Sometimes we feel as though we are alone in this big, messed up, screwed up, world of alcoholic blunders.... and then we come to find out the truth.No one is perfect. And especially for us alcohlics... we've ALL been through the the same blunders. The thoughts of "gosh, I must be the worst person on earth" dissapear, as we realize we are just like every other person with this disease. All our lives we felt seperated... now we are with others who are just like us. What a great thing that is. To be seperate and apart from no more. I looked around and saw that these others were not fighting their past. That they had found a way to deal with it and move on. And above that, to find real peace within themselves. It was the sobriety that did it for them, and a program of spirituality. It did it for me to, and it will do it for you. It's wonderfull to know I'm not the only one that F'd up. I fit right in with the rest, and from here on, it's onward and upward! The secret to walking a tight rope is "dont look down". The secret to our walk is "dont look back".

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"From a Member of Alanon"

I would like to comment that having gone through all that I have, there was ALOT that I didn't know. Well at least, I guess, that I never took to heart in as far as what I, me, myself should have. When things in my own personal situation had come to a point of devastion, that is when I investigated the view from the other side. Reading all that could be read from the view of those who drank and their stories. I've come to understand you and your peers so much better. In turn, this has made me question, re-think and change my attitude and view of those fighting this disease. The physical aspects are often most apparent, however, it is the mental, emotional, and spiritual.......the unseen....that is the hardest for those of us who have relationships with alcoholics to understand.This is what your stories have given to me. That glimpse inside to understand better what you feel, think ect. Being honest with ourselves is the hardest thing to face. Conquering our own defects is tough. Whatever side of the fence we come from in facing this disease, together, we learn from one another.

(There is a link to Alanon under the "usefull links" section in the right hand panel)

From "Bringing Back the Dead"
As far as careers in alcoholism go I think I’ve been fortunate. I go to meetings and look around and see a lot of hard miles on a lot of tired faces. I think I was around sixteen when I realized I was an alcoholic. Drank until I was 22. Came up with an excuse and quit until I was 36. Got divorced and decided it would be a good idea to resume my research into the effects of alcohol on a depressed, somewhat confused newly divorced male of 40. Still looking at the data but the results weren’t all that shocking. So for five years- half a decade- I drank. I didn’t do drugs. I did drugs when I was a kid and quickly became bored with them. I’m Scotch-Irish and so perhaps genetically predisposed to the pedestrian qualities of beer. I drank a little wine. I never was much for hard liquor. I did however drink some really good beer, for what its worth. Or expensive, anyways- I assume that’s the scale we’re using, since no liquor really did me any amount of good, really. I do know for certain it had nice packaging. Pretty bottles and cans, Stainless steel, porcelain with a fancy cork- all kinds of pretentious shit. Even that didn’t make me happy. There are signs alcoholics get- little yellow and red flags that god- or Allah or Jah or the mother ship if you will- send down to us to give us a little hand, presumably because they know we’re remedial and hobbled by the constraints of a blood alcohol level several times the legal limit. The little warnings come in many forms, but I think one of the easiest ones is when you begin to think that every waitperson is the slowest waitperson in the entire universe. After being sober for a time I realized that there is no waitress or waiter anywhere that can bring the drinks fast enough for a drunk like me- that’s just not humanly possible. In fact, if any one of them had my sense of humor they would have kept bringing them back as fast as I could consume them, just to see how quick they could get me unconscious. They could have had a drunk pool and made some side bets. But luckily for me not everyone has a weird, rye, twisted sense of humor, and instead I went through life wondering if there was a decent waiter or waitress anywhere in the world. Just the same- nowadays they can’t bring me iced teas or root beers quick enough either It’s just my burden to bear, I suppose. I drink fast.An alcoholic has to have tricks to get by- ways to prolong their languishing health. I used to eat two aspirin and two ibuprophen before bed, chased down with a couple pints of cold water. I trained myself to wake up every hour or two and I drink another pint or three during the night. Then I’d get up in the morning and eat another couple aspirin and ibuprophen and eat a nice, greasy breakfast and I’d be as good as….used. I’d be marginal at best. I’d feel better than if I hadn’t gone to all that trouble but about a hundred times worse than if my body wasn’t completely saturated with alcohol like it was. So I’d be wearing dark glasses to hide from the brightness of the sun, my body and head would have this dull ache that was just present in everything I did. I’d limp through the day pretending to be great and by 3:30 I’d be at the store picking up a twelve pack, knowing that the first couple would make me feel pretty all right. Of course after the first couple I never could get that feeling back and I’d spend the balance of the evening’s consciousness chasing after the illusion, the ghost of a feeling. Now I know it’s a myth- a fable- a not so carefully constructed illusion of this fantastic feeling that lasts exactly two drinks and then is always just over the next hill- or at the bottom of the next drink, as it were. The beauty of the set-up is that by the time you’d put in enough time to figure it out you were too drunk to accept it and you just kept steamrolling yourself right through whatever beverages were in front of you. Or me, anyhow. So that’s a chunk of how things have been in the past for me. And like I said- I was fortunate. My drinking career was short and despite what everyone has told me about setting goals too high and about living in the moment- I will never drink again. That’s kind of odd, thinking about that in the abstract. It seems like such a mundane thing- alcohol, standing on it’s own without the alcoholic attached. But that’s the way things are, and so this is the way I am. As stubborn as I was about quitting and going to AA- and as tenacious as I was to keep surviving my days and managing to work despite the crap I was putting myself through- I’m that determined and tenacious and stubborn about not falling into that trap again. My grandfathers on both sides were alcoholics. My mom’s dad died of sclerosis of the liver, my dad’s dad was a violent drunk and came to a violent end- drunk and on a tear he was shot to death by his second wife (in his defense she was a pistol champion and a crack shot.) Somehow it managed to skip my dad yet in an unfair turn of events he died of cancer of the liver and pancreas. Literally on his deathbed I promised him that I was done drinking. I figured it was worrying him and I knew it was worrying me, and at that time I felt really terrible that I could be piling one more worry onto the shoulders of a man that was facing the scariest thing any of us will ever face. Still it took me a year and eight months to put on the brakes. After dad died I stopped for a while, and then I drank more and more regularly than I ever had before. I don’t really know what it was that was driving me to do this but I have always had a feeling that something made me cease caring about my own well-being. I had all of the information and am a pretty intuitive guy- I would start out the day wanting to be this one person that is independent and strong and healthy and then as morning turned to afternoon and afternoon to evening at some point I would just say “fuck it.” And even though I knew it truly wasn’t what I wanted to do and didn’t work in the direction I wanted to be going- despite the knowledge that it was wrong for me and bad for me and that I was doing myself physical harm- and despite the sick feeling I got at the beginning of the first beer- I would do it anyhow. Sometimes I drove past the liquor store twice before finally pulling in- still agonizing and struggling with myself over the decision. The whole time I entertained thoughts of being this guy that I have in my head. I don’t know who he is- maybe me, maybe a conglomerate of people I admire- I don’t know. The whole time I also entertained visions of me going to AA and just facing my stuff and the future and getting back on track, but that was a thought that for some reason really scared me. In retrospect, that’s kind of funny. I’d done a ton of things and been a ton of things between the age of fifteen and 40, and here I was afraid to go to AA. A year and eight months after I told my dad I was done drinking I finally went to AA. It wasn’t any huge traumatic incident that did it like it is for some people. I didn’t wreck a truck or burn down the house or end up in jail like the stories that I’ve heard from other people. Honestly I think I just finally got tired of it. It wore me down. Even me- the guy that thought he could get through anything by sheer will- it wore me down. So here I am. I went to a meeting last night, like I do every other night or so. The meeting is a lot like the liquor store- always there, waiting for me- but the meetings are about a block farther down the road from my house. I while back before things got so serious I’d go a couple days between drunks. Then pretty soon it got to be a day between drunks. Then one day it just became drunk every night. It seems to be going backwards with meetings. It was every night for a while there, but now it’s about every other night. There are a lot of similarities between my life before and my life now. The big difference is it’s a hell of a lot less work to maintain my sobriety than it was to maintain my (active) alcoholism. Waitresses still seem to move at the same speed

Posted by Random Non Sequitur

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Alcoholism is a disease of the body, thinking, emotions and spirit. Progressive damage to these four aspects interact in various ways such that a person is increasingly compelled to drink. Also, once drinking starts they cannot ?always? guarantee when they will stop or how much they will drink. The BodyA genetic predisposition. Fifty percent of alcoholics have an inherited genetic makeup that almost guaranteed they would become alcoholic when they began to drink heavily. For example, the brain chemistry of some children or grandchildren of alcoholics actually encourages heavier drinking.Alcohol Metabolism. Alcohol is metabolized differently by some people. As a result the body and brain requires more alcohol to have the same effect than normal drinkers would need.Cell alteration. All heavy drinkers undergo changes at the cellular level of the brain. Where the brain cells meet extra receptor positions grow to receive the heavy dose of alcohol related chemical messengers. When not drinking these extra receptor positions demand to be filled thus creating a craving for alcohol.Brain damage. Alcohol, in any quantity, is poisonous to brain cells and kills off cells in their millions. The most critically affected parts of the brain are those that deal with short term memory, decision making and rational thinking. Women heavy drinkers develop brain damage with less drinking than men.Liver Damage. The most common liver disease of alcoholics is cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver. This disease results in reduced and corrupted chemicals being sent to the body which can result in damage to other organs. Women suffer liver damage with less alcohol consumption than men.Alcoholic Hepatitis (AH). AH is caused by other liver diseases most notably cirrhosis of the liver. More than 60% of persons who develop both AH and cirrhosis will die within four years. AH can cause changes in sleep patterns, mood, and personality; psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression; shortened attention span; and problems with coordination may occur.Brain Chemicals. The body and especially the brain relies on the liver to filter important body fluids and excrete wastes. As a result of contaminated chemistry from a damaged liver the brain does not function properly. Typically a person will have cloudy and slowed thinking.Heart Damage. Heavy drinking causes damage to the heart muscles. The heart pumps less blood and an abnormal heart beat may develop. Women suffer heart damage with less alcohol consumed than men.Skeletal Muscles. Heavy drinking causes muscles in the arms and legs to shrink. For example, an alcoholic may have legs that are out of proportion, skinnier, than the rest of their body. Sufferers may become embarrassed about their body shape.Cancer. The risk of cancer increases with greater alcohol consumption ? more so in women. Cancer can develop in the upper airways, the liver, breasts and the bowels.Sexual Organs and Sexuality. Heavy alcohol use shrinks the testicles. In men and women the breasts grow larger. Men produce more female hormones and women produce more male hormones. Men become less virile and women become less feminine. As a result a persons sexuality and libido is altered. They may sense change in their sexuality and over compensate by becoming more sexually active. Indiscriminate or intoxicated sexual activity raises the risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases. ThinkingAs detailed before various damaged body organs and altered chemistry affect how the brain thinks. This buildup of thinking changes occurs over an extended time period. These small changes are usually unseen by the sufferer. The person reacts by adjusting their reasoning and behavior to accommodate their new ways of thinking. Alcoholics always adjust their thinking in ways that are harmful to themselves. And further, they cannot see the impact of their new coping style.Typically they begin to adopt a siege mentality. Inner-self feedback, and from other people, indicates they are not quite at one with their ?inner? selves or the person they once were. Their experiences seem to paint a picture to the sufferer that people around them are against them, or are better than them, or are just different from themselves. They become insecure, angry, ashamed, depressed and anxious about their altered attitudes and actions.This siege mentality generates a self-centered perspective to protect their self concept. They become takers and non-givers. ?I want what I want and I want it now?, sort of thing; ?I need a drink, now?; regardless of the needs of others. And, when they do not get it they assert themselves even more, becoming more demanding as the disease progresses. Alcoholics will increasingly try to cope by drinking more alcohol to take away the pain of their perception of being isolated in thinking and behavior. They slowly adopt a denial attitude to their real condition, which they eventually believe is reality for them.The alcoholic drinks more due to a different brain chemistry and metabolism, has craving for more alcohol due to cell alteration and organ damage, and drinks more to cope with the effects of their changed thinking and behavior. They are drinking to feel normal.The EmotionsFrom the above it can easily be seen that their emotions become strained and twisted. They become emotionally dependent on achieving and keeping a state of denial of their true situation. They deny it to themselves and others. If their alcoholism is in threat of being exposed or their alcohol supply is threatened they may protect themselves with anger, bluff, self-pity, manipulation, depression, running away & etc. They ?feel? as if they must continue their current emotional and thinking stance at all costs. Alcohol has become their best friend and they are loyal to it.The SpiritThe spirit of a person is the centre of their personality. If, as seen above, the person is not thinking, feeling or acting as their true self would, not aligned with their spiritual self, they are spiritually ill at ease; or dis-eased.A SolutionThe progression of the disease must be arrested by stopping drinking and restoration of health in all four areas - body, thinking, emotions and spirit.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Alcohol Withdrawal

Withdrawals Can Be Mild, Moderate or Severe
Alcohol withdrawal refers to a group of symptoms that may occur from suddenly stopping the use of alcohol after chronic or prolonged ingestion.Not everyone who stops drinking experiences withdrawal symptoms, but most people who have been drinking for a long period of time, or drinking frequently, or drink heavily when they do drink, will experience some form of withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking suddenly.There is no way to predict how any individual will respond to quitting. If you plan to stop drinking and you have been drinking for years, or if you drink heavily when you do drink, or even if you drink moderately but frequently, you should consult a medical professional before going "cold turkey."

Withdrawal Symptoms:

Mild to moderate psychological symptoms:
Feeling of jumpiness or nervousness
Feeling of shakiness
Irritability or easily excited
Emotional volatility, rapid emotional changes
Difficulty with thinking clearly
Bad dreams
Mild to moderate physical symptoms:
Headache - general, pulsating
Sweating, especially the palms of the hands or the face
Loss of appetite
Insomnia, sleeping difficulty
Rapid heart rate (palpitations)
Eyes, pupils different size (enlarged, dilated pupils)
Skin, clammy
Abnormal movements
Tremor of the hands
Involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids
Severe symptoms:
A state of confusion and hallucinations (visual) -- known as delirium tremens
"Black outs" -- when the person forgets what happened during the drinking episode

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Stages of The Disease

Alcoholism Stages
Alcoholism stages can be categorized into three stages of alcoholism -- early stage, middle stage and end stage alcoholism or late stage alcoholism. Alcoholism stages generally take years to develop. Alcoholism is a disease where alcoholic beverage consumption is at a level that interferes with physical or mental health, and negatively impacts social, family or occupational responsibilities.
Consuming no more than one or two drinks per day for healthy men and a drink a day for healthy non-pregnant women are generally considered acceptable alcohol consumption without health risks. However, as the amount or frequency of drinking increases, the earliest of the alcoholism stages can develop as a result.
Early Stages of Alcoholism
In the early alcoholism stages, a person begins to depend on alcohol to affect their mood. They drink for relief from problems, and they begin thinking more and more about alcohol. The person and others around them may not recognize that they are in the earliest of the stages of alcoholism. A gradual increase in tolerance happens, meaning, it takes increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired mood-altering effects. Often, the person can consume large amounts of alcohol without appearing impaired.
In the early alcoholism stages, the body has adapted to increasing amounts of alcohol. In fact, how a person functions will likely be improved with drinking as blood alcohol levels rise. For example, they can think and talk normally or walk a straight line with no problem. However, with continued alcohol consumption over time, the body begins to lose its ability to deal with high alcohol levels. As this occurs, when the alcoholic stops drinking and their blood alcohol level decreases, their thinking, talking or walking functions deteriorate, and they are moving into the next of the stages of alcoholism.
Middle Alcoholism Stages
The need and desire to drink gradually becomes more intense. Drinking larger amounts and more often happens as well as drinking earlier in the day. The alcoholic is losing control over drinking, and the body is losing its ability to process alcohol like it did in the early stages of alcoholism. Their tolerance decreases as they become intoxicated more easily. Withdrawal symptoms begin to become more severe if alcohol is reduced.
The person may now secretly recognize there is a drinking problem, and others may begin to notice as well. Unfortunately, the alcoholic no longer can judge how much alcohol their body can handle. Typically, the drinker denies to themselves and others that alcohol is a problem so they won't have to deal with their inner turmoil. Hangovers, blackouts and stomach problems can now be physical symptoms that occur on a regular basis.
End Stage Alcoholism
As alcoholism progresses, the alcoholic has become obsessed with drinking to the exclusion of nearly everything else. Everyone can tell there's a major problem. During the late alcoholism stages, the mental and physical health of the alcoholic are seriously deteriorating. Many of the body's organs have been damaged which lowers resistance to disease. Relationships at home or socially may have been severely damaged, and there can be mounting financial and legal problems due to the alcoholic's powerlessness over alcohol.
Every alcoholic will suffer from malnutrition. Alcohol in large amounts interferes with the digestion process and the passage of nutrients from the intestines into the bloodstream. Liver function has been damaged, further limiting the conversion of nutrients into a usable form that the body can assimilate. The damaged cells are not receiving the needed nutrients, they cannot repair themselves and the damage continues. Nutritional deficiencies cause a host of related problems to become worse. For example, vitamin B-1 deficiency common in alcoholics can result in loss of mental alertness and appetite, fatigue, confusion and emotional instability.
And if the alcoholic continues drinking, alcohol will cause the death of the alcoholic in one way or another. From suicide, accidents and related injuries to direct damage to the body's organs and systems, death will likely be the final outcome of end stage alcoholism.