HI, MY NAME IS ______ AND I’M AN ALCOHOLIC.
No one that ever begins drinking expects to say those words. Yet those are the words spoken in A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings daily all over the world. No matter what age you were when you took your first drink, usually you expected it to be fun. Just to enjoy with friends. For some, that’s all it will ever be. For others, it becomes an addiction.
For those that become alcoholics it typically takes years and many times “hitting bottom” before they admit (voluntarily or involuntarily) that it’s a problem. An alcoholic has a “couple” of drinks with friends or to “unwind”. The couple of drinks turns into a couple every night. The “couple” turns into innumerable drinks. This is when friends and family start to comment that there is a problem.
The alcoholic then justifies that he can “control it”. He begins to “control it” or hide it for a while until people “get off his case”. This cycle continues. And continues. And continues. Unfortunately, as the cycle continues this is when he hits his bottom. The bottom looks different for everyone; but, ultimately it’s whatever becomes a wake-up call and gets the alcoholic’s attention.
With the wake-up call, the alcoholic then seeks treatment and an A.A. meeting to get involved in. At the A.A. meeting the first step is to admit you are an alcoholic. At the meeting you stand up and introduce yourself, saying, “Hi, my name is _____ and I’m an alcoholic”. Without admission, no one is able to help you. This is an imperative first step. Once you admit you are an alcoholic, have a problem with addiction, and are powerless to control it on your own, then you become empowered to accept help and receive treatment.
No journey is meant to be a journey for one though. Alcoholics Anonymous pairs you with a sponsor. This sponsor has walked a similar journey with addiction, has found sobriety, and can understand where you are and bring you to where he is, in sobriety. At Fresh Start Ministries we know that once you admit you are an alcoholic and need help, sobriety is a daily choice, and one that requires support.
Nothing happens until you admit that you need help. Once you do that, we are here for you.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is defined by Psychology Today as “a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (alcohol, drugs, etc.) that can be pleasurable; but, the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with normal life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health”.
Most addicts don’t admit that their behavior is compulsive or that it is interfering with normal life responsibilities.
There are two types of addiction: physical and psychological. Let’s examine the difference because the problem isn’t the substance; its the underlying cause, the reason, they are abusing the substance and struggle with addiction.
A physical addiction is where the body adapts to the amount of the substance going into the system. As the body increases its tolerance of the amount of the substance (drugs or alcohol), more is required to get the same effect. When a substance is removed from the body, withdrawal is experienced. Someone who doesn’t struggle with addiction and can indulge recreationally doesn’t experience withdrawal. The second type of physical addiction is triggered by cues. An alcoholic walking into a bar or a cocaine addict watching someone do a line of coke is likely to be triggered by these cues. This trigger can cause them to use the substance.
A psychological addiction is much more powerful than a physical addiction. They compulsively use because of a reaction to emotional stress. This stress can be brought on from a current event in their life or from an emotional pain from their past that they haven’t dealt with yet. Psychological addiction is most often referred to as “an escape”; the addict is trying to escape from the emotional pain of life. The addict that struggles with a psychological addiction is more likely to switch frequently from drug to drug, substance to another substance. Once this addict is “dry”, he tends to replace the substance with another addictive tendency. Perhaps, smoking, pornography, watching TV excessively…..anything to escape reality.
Whether addiction is a disease, mental illness, or an escape mechanism, it still interferes with a productive, healthy life, harms relationships, and requires treatment. At Fresh Start Ministries, our treatment philosophy encompasses the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.