The Quiet Comfort of Alcohol, and What It Can Do For You

There is no other destroyer of brain cells like the subtleness of alcohol.

pouring bottle of beer

From the beginning alcohol attacks without warning, infiltrating our otherwise logical mind. For many of us this barrage begins, insidiously, as brain cells and synapsis falter, become damaged and die. Some of us were blackout drinkers right away, some are bingers, people who drink over short periods of a time while others seem to have an unlimited ability to drink around the clock. Then for many others, there are those for whom we will never understand: those who can take it or leave it:

They walk away, with booze, beer or wine left in their glass,
and they leave it.

We know the effects are so elusive that we believe we need more, and we do. For us, there’s always the need for more. Alcohol works without a break behind the scenes demanding ever-earnest cooperation from its host, with each sip.

ALCOHOL IS A THREE-FOLD DISEASE OF PERCEPTION:

We experience “the phenomena of craving,” described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, that began even before we pick up the first drink. One shot is enough to convince us we are on our way to “that divine place” as our physical compulsion demands we have yet another, and so we do. These events, together with a soul-sickness that points to our own self-reliance, work together to mask an illusion of grandeur. The booze transforms our thinking and takes us away from the logic of our reality so that what we see, hear and believe is a person we always wanted to be but never was. Many of us became boisterous, outgoing, or downright charming, while others captivated us with voices of conviviality they never knew they possessed. Still others prefer the isolation drinking brings, while others experience profound anger, and prefer a good fight.

Drinking morphs into a gentle foe, preferring to take its time instead of inflicting a quick execution over us. Like a deadly insect waiting to attack, alcohol seeks the softness of internal organs and begins destruction even as we feel fine. The brain and liver rank high on the list of first affected. We seem to forget about the heart too. 

Alcoholism never stops. It sleeps, insisting upon our utmost attention in pursuit of complete ownership of our soul. It is always with us, growing like a cancer until we put it into remission with abstinence, or death, or until we quit—once and for all.

What makes alcohol so popular is its reliability, and that for those over 21 or younger in some states, it is legal and accessible. We know what we can expect from our drink of choice. Compared to the faux-complexity of drugs, 80 percent alcohol is still, 80 percent alcohol. This, combined with ease of availability strips away most of our concerns as one drink becomes too many, but yet, one-hundred is never enough.

The National Institute of Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse shows that 88,000 people die each year to alcohol-related deaths. This goes on to say that Globally, alcohol misuse was the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability in 2010. Globally.

Remember our belated friends or family members who died from what was considered a “heart-attack?” Think again.  More often than not it was brought about as a direct result from alcohol. 

What alcohol doesn’t tell us is what is occurring inside of our body as we drink. We know that for everyone, it is different. Ask the female in a state penitentiary doing long time for manslaughter and she’ll tell you it was her first drink that got her drunk. She never saw the child crossing the street, multi-tasking driving drunk. We tell ourselves, “Yeah, well that will never happen to me.”  Really? She told us that’s what she said, too…

Ask the physician who tries desperately to save the life of a young man.  With the start of one drink, he set off a chemical chain of events so injurious that they could not change the course of his untimely death. In my blog, “The Gift of Desperation,”  one can easily see what it will take to quit if one has either the Alcohol Abuse Disorder discussed below, or alcoholism.

Alcohol Abuse Disorder (AUD) or Alcoholism?

According to the National Institute of Health, approximately sixteen million individuals have alcohol abuse disorder. If you compare these statistics with the popular Quiz taken from the National Council for Alcoholism and Drugs , you can quickly assess yourself. No one but you can answer this question. The Recovery Village offers a definition of the difference between Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse Disorder. Using these and other tools, if we were to be completely honest we can easily diagnose ourselves.

Alcohol is a huge traitor. Without detection, it courts us with great experiences and for a time, these experiences comes through, delivering us to a place high above the fray, but this thrill is short-lived, while at the heart of every alcoholic.

For us as an alcoholic, this adversary has one mission: to consume our thoughts, our body and any sign of forward motion, before it kills us.

Alcohol creates the illusion that nothing is wrong with us as we are, sloshed as an overturned canoe in a raging river, and still, we believe it.

Capturing our mind, it never ceases and grows like a cancer, until we have succumbed to its total transformation—to the acute, chronic and insanely sick alcoholic that we have become.

Alcoholics don’t only reside on skid row, nor are most of us homeless. Some of us are your doctor, your legislator, your neighbor and your friend.

Alcoholics are not “weak,” or short-changed intellectually, alcohol continued abuse will prove otherwise. In fact, in every other area of life we are over-achievers, hard drivers and intelligent human beings.

But what differentiates us from normal folks, is the moment we put any amount of alcohol into our body, the “phenomena of craving,” the physical allergy which is alcohol’s inability to process alcohol sugar https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa22.htm and other nutrients like normal people begins, and we cannot stop if we wanted to. Each person experiences the effects of alcohol and its absorption rates differently for reasons of genetics, histrionics, environment and more. 

A vast majority of us, sooner or later, cross an imaginary line that makes it virtually impossible for us to stop. Many of us experience jails, dui’s, court-ordered meetings and a complete stripping away of any moral code we thought we had in an attempt to get back to that sweet spot where drinking once took us. There are those of us who, it is said, “get off the elevator without going all the way down,” thereby missing many of the same consequences suffered by others.

There are plenty of us too, who take the leap of faith to sobriety before the elevator of shame moves at all.

Our greatest similarities seem to be the pain of losing ourselves.

I don’t know an alcoholic drunk or sober, that didn’t experience the brutal truth of knowing we were already half dead, empty in our souls, our hearts, and minds. For those who hadn’t yet committed suicide, the pain we suffered silently from a deep self-loathing, felt as if we were well on our way.

We don’t have to be a death sentence.

When we’ve had enough fun, when the excitement has left us and we become just a little more willing to live than to die, we can find our way to the surface to see hope on the horizon.

Hope is always but a bridge of willingness away. Sobriety can work for you if you’re willing to work for it.

If you think you may have a problem with alcohol, chances are you do or it wouldn’t be a concern. You can always call Alcoholics Anonymous and look for a local office of AA near you.

You never have to drink, or be alone again—if you don’t want to. We will teach you in the rooms of recovery how, with complete privacy and gentle assurance that, if it worked for us, it will work for you!

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